Larry Gagosian has expanded his empire of modern and contemporary galleries, by presenting Urs Fischer’s ‘YES’ series of sculptures across two new New York locations. The works are derived from Fischer’s sprawling exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA last year, for which he enlisted the help of 1,500 volunteer participants to sculpt various subjects in clay. Gagosian presents a much smaller two-part version of the show, at a new uptown location at 821 Park Avenue, and a temporary space on the Lower East Side.
A nearly life-size interpretation of Christ’s infamous dinner party – last supper (2014) – features in the uptown space. Cast in bronze, the apostles retain the surface inconsistencies of the original, rapidly executed model in clay.
The scene downtown is rather different. An inconspicuous former Chase bank branch on Delancey Street houses dozens more bronze casts from selected ‘YES’ sculptures. The space, with its banal decor, still evokes the pedestrian rituals of branch banking. But visitors’ explorations of the urban ruin are punctuated by an almost narrative arrangement of modelled sculptures. A grand fireplace and a mermaid (mermaid, 2014) dominate the centre of the branch floor, while a massive Napoleonic bust sits behind the counter. Works hide around every corner. A lion lurks in a hidden server room, and the employee kitchenette plays host to a scene of gold-plated bestiality.
The choice of this downtown location has two possible subtexts. It is, no doubt, related to Fischer’s own practice of rearranging and re-appropriating normalised spaces. Fischer’s previous immersive projects and installations include ‘You’ (2007) at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, or the Cockatoo Island project (2007) in Sydney, Australia. The artist weaves collaborative narratives by transforming functional spaces; a gallery, a prison, and here, a local bank. But this show also registers as Gagosian’s challenge to any remaining doubters: as if to say ‘watch me sell this ambiguously-authored sculpture out of a graffitied server room.’
‘last supper’ is at Gagosian Gallery, Park & 75, New York, until 8 May.
‘mermaid / pig / bro w/hat’ is at Gagosian Gallery, Delancey Street, New York, until 23 May.