An enigmatic yet appealing show by Los Angeles-based artist Shana Lutker.
In this exhibition featuring photographs and installations, Shana Lutker uses found objects such as sticks, stones, rope, cones, but also constructed objects placed among them, which allude to the collection of fetishized objects that Sigmund Freud owned, and which upon his death became part of the Sigmund Freud Museum. She explores the value of the work of art versus that of normal everyday objects, that, once imbibed with meaning and human appreciation, turn into something precious. This question is analyzed humorously, yet philosophically, in the installation of two sticks, placed in direct conversation with each other, the one on the left made out of bronze, while the one on the right being just a normal found stick (both selling for the same price). Who’s to say that the bronze is more valuable than that made by nature itself, the ultimate creator? Beauty (and value) is in the eye of the beholder.
The photographs are also of found objects or of objects that are not intended to be art objects and here too, they are elevated to the status of art by the value conferred upon them by the person who shows their appreciation for them. In this instance, however, the photos are quite aesthetically pleasing and decorative, so I would find it difficult to believe that one would not consider them exclusively art objects.
The press release:
“When I’m bored, all I have to do is make a red knot and look at it.”
In his study of hysteria, early psychologist and director of the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris J. M. Charcot relied on a 15 year-old
woman, known as Augustine, who came to his hospital in 1876. “A,” “G,” “L,” & “X” are the four different initials assigned to her at
different points in time. Charcot, who was also the professor of young Sigmund Freud, explored the symptoms of hysteria, “a supreme
vehicle for expression”, which he defined as a neurological disease. It is Augustine who appears most often in image and words
throughout the archive of Charcot’s work.
In her first solo exhibition in Switzerland, Shana Lutker (*1978, USA) presents a group of works that function like Augustine’s
knots, a collection of objects to be looked at, but don’t instantly reveal themselves. Here, looking takes time. The things
circulate, repeat, come back in different form, material or texture. Things look like things they are not, are familiar but
unnamable, or have no name. They are tightly wound, or deathly still, waiting for a purpose, or to be remembered.
The objects and images that comprise A. G. L. & X. stem from the legacies and relics of psychoanalysis and surrealism and recall the
strategies and concerns of figures like Sigmund Freud and Andre Breton, but they are decidedly of the present. They refer to the
images, instruments and architecture of the Hospital Salpêtrière, which still operates as teaching hospital, and which Lutker has
visited recent months. Some of the works in the exhibition were made by the artist, re-makes of things seen or told in these
archives, some were found or bought as they appear. They are installed in groups and associations. Yellow sun blinds cover the
windows of the gallery, referring to the yellow blinds at the Salpêtrière, and collapse the domestic architecture of the gallery
onto the grounds of the Hospital in Paris.
The works in the exhibition can also be seen as stand-ins; for Augustine, and the other patients collected and presented by Charcot,
and later, Freud, but also for the well-known collections of antiquities, primitive artifacts, and oddities of these figures.
Drawing from the archives of psychoanalysis and surrealism, Shana Lutker’s work takes shape in a variety of mediums and materials,
and foregrounds the relationship between truth and interpretation. A. G. L. & X. is a continuation of the body of work shown at
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects last year in the exhibition H. Y. S. T. et al.