Thursday, 7 October 2010


The Giant 2, 2007
Installation Views, Canadian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, September 2007

Born: Montreal 1974
Lives: and works in New York

2001MFA, Columbia University, New York, NY
1998BFA, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada

installation view, Modern Art, London, 17 October – 15 November, 2008

Crystals grow out of hollows in the limbs, mushrooms sprout from the remains of tendons, little birds eggs nestle in crevices and small animals roam the hollows. The groin area, which has a sparkly and flaccid penis and testicles, also features crystals and mirror spikes, creating a sense of energy shooting upward.

What’s most affecting in Altmejd’s work is the childlike aspect of it, which is where the tension lies. The mushrooms and logs and stuffed birds look like props from a grade-school play; yet placed alongside the mirrors and birdmen and body parts, the goofy innocence is both underlined and undermined, creepy and funny.

While his work stubbornly refuses any narrative, Altmejd loads it with what he calls “narrative potential.” His influences, however, do have thematic cohesion. They include French-born American sculptor Louise Bourgeois, whose giant spider sculpture sits beside the National Gallery in Ottawa, and German-born American Kiki Smith, who uses mythology and symbols relating animals and humans. The show’s commissioner, Louise Dery, jokingly draws a connection with “the other Davids”: namely, directors Cronenberg and Lynch, as well as the marble colossus by the great one himself, Michelangelo.

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