Home Architect Johanna Fateman on Bari Ziperstein

Johanna Fateman on Bari Ziperstein

by godlove4241
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Bari Ziperstein’s ornate ceramics are brilliant meditations on ideology and visual culture inspired by Soviet architecture and textiles. Or perhaps, with their concentrated, expressively artisanal and talismanic character, his seductive works are more like charms against the tragic quixoticism rooted in the more totalitarian strains of modernist aesthetics. (The artist, a descendant of Russian, Ukrainian and Polish Jewish immigrants and refugees, has a family connection to her charged sources.)

The fascinations at the heart of “Set Patterns”, the artist’s exhibition here, were sparked by his research at the Wende Museum in Los Angeles during a residency in 2015-2016. She was struck by the dramatic dystopian incongruities of vintage postcards from the Wende collection featuring happy Eastern Bloc citizens and holidaymakers in front of stark, raw concrete buildings and public works – proud examples of the brutalist style. dominating the area from the 1970s. Ziperstein was also taken with the museum’s range of Soviet textiles: those derived from traditional Slavic floral patterns as well as the patterns that supplanted them in the late 1920s and early 1930s , when the images were replete with propaganda themes, including those of agricultural abundance. , were officially favorable. During a period that coincided with several years of the devastating Ukrainian famine, depictions of farm workers, tractors and sheaves of wheat appeared alongside busy, constructivist symbols of industrial production and the new communist government. .

Drawing on sources from a variety of disciplines and decades, Ziperstein conjures up his own dramatic incongruities as natural complements, fusing them into delightfully ornate brutalist mini-monuments. Forbidden flower power (all works 2023), a domed piece, references the Stalin era ban on purely floral designs, rebelling against the edict with a fierce surface of abstract leaves and flowers rendered by inlay bold. It was one of eight sandstone sculptures – scalloped or jagged cylinders and tiered geometric volumes set on finely glazed plinths or burnished walnut plinths – in the main gallery room. Roughly the height of small children or side tables with lamps, they set a tone of warm opulence, their effusive decoration camouflaging the harshness of their underlying architecture, whose cold charisma becomes notoriously sinister in harsh conditions. repression and neglect.

Reorienting the compositional principles of Soviet brutalism for different and more beautiful purposes, Ziperstein exhibits the style’s reliance on its typically massive scale and unfinished, unadorned surfaces to give its deconstructed ziggurats and cantilevered forms -false their futuristic cinematic power. The jagged silhouette of its small building with a sardonic and abstract title Big pointed building, for example, has been softened with teal and cream florals. A plane of mirror-finished metallic glaze tops the sculpture, and a concave shape rests at the center of its shimmering roof, evoking an ashtray, birdbath, or candy dish.

The artist’s interest in domesticity and decoration – in women’s work and a traditionally female sphere – was underscored by a set of curtains, which divided the two rooms of the space, separating the round sculptures from the shadow box wall art. in the back. Ziperstein made the lavender and taupe fabric for this exhibit in collaboration with artist Jill Spector, hand-printing it with a gestural floral design using broccoli and artichoke hearts. Half-hidden in its grass-green, navy-speckled folds were embroidered figures—workers wearing scarves and scythes.

The curved and simplified forms of the curtains found an echo in the sculpted and glazed relief sweep of russia, which was – in its deceptively colorful gaiety – the series’ most explicit commentary on the dark ideological undercurrents of Ziperstein’s source material. Bodies lie pell-mell in the wake of a broom held by a worker in uniform, a soldier or a prisoner. They fall outside the bounds of the square image into its decorative frame, which is checkered and surrounded by red flowers. Current emergencies – Putin’s war, disinformation campaigns and the goal of reestablishing the territory of a “historic Russia” – figure prominently in Ziperstein’s exploration of past styles. Craftsman of rare skill and artist of conceptual precision, she amplifies the visual appeal, while undermining the instrumentalization, of brutalist force as sunny delirium.

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