Greene Naftali presents “New York Golem,” the third solo exhibition of the Vienna-based art collective.
In Jewish folklore, a golem is a rough-hewn, amorphous creature molded out of clay—an unformed, anthropomorphic being that is clumsy and slow. One origin story traces the golem to be the result of an “ecstatic” experience, initiated by the ritual act of shoving written letters into the golem’s mouth.
This bit of knowledge, coupled with a brief and hermetic press release, gives some insight into Greene Naftali‘s latest exhibition “New York Golem.” There you will find the auspicious clay sculptures of Vienna-based art collective Gelatin (a.k.a. Gelitin).
The group, which is known for its playful antics and propensity for the absurd, showcases more than 40 ceramic sculptures, each one placed atop plinths made of assembled materials like wood, metal, and random household objects. The press release gives us another clue to the formation of the work: “It bears marks of its creation in passion, molded by gelatin’s genitals and sometimes through the behind.”
Indeed, the four impish members of Gelatin have used their bodies as casts or tools, inserting themselves (quite literally) into the raw material—the four men can be seen in a videosplashing around in vats of wet clay, penetrating the soft material, and painting each other’s bodies in a sort of ode to Yves Klein‘s corporeal “Anthropometries” series, which used models’ bodies as human paintbrushes. Though the creation of the pieces is rooted in absurdist theater and scatological humor, the finished objects bear a resemblance to the sculptures of Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison—odd abstract sculptures incorporating found objects. read more