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In Accumulations and Overlaps at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Amalia Pica’s stacked, totemic sculptures and small-scale, cast bronze paperweights speak to the quiet, often hidden poetry of domestic minutia. Crafted from an assortment of found objects, these hybridized works celebrate the visual lyricism of the household readymade—the brand of inanimate possession that mercilessly peppers our lives and congests our most intimate spaces. Simultaneously, these sculptures nod toward material abundance, and in doing so suggest an inquiry into what compels our ubiquitous desire to accumulate such things in the first place.
Intermingling an assortment of domestic commodities (a shovel, a teapot, a spindle of rope) and a variety of smoothly sculpted wooden forms, Pica’s modular, geometric Stacker works occupy the main gallery space like a scattering of small exquisite corpses. Each of these five assemblages (all 2021) enact simple, physical juxtapositions as the primary device for creating meaning. The works center around a large wooden dowel that sprouts from a circular or polygonal base. Suggesting a traceable chronology of action, Pica then stacks myriad workaday objects atop the base, with the dowel acting either as a needle that threads through the center or as an erect branch from which these unexceptional wares dangle. In Stacker #1, a neatly snaking garden hose rests underneath a pancaked, ochre-hued wooden sphere, a speckled black pot with a strangely knobby lid, a brick-red hexagonal block, an outmoded Rolodex, and an upside-down stemless wine glass, which suggestively embraces the tip of the dowel like a bulbous glass cap. Pica’s physical gesture of piling these objects one atop the other points to modes of categorization and classification, suggesting that these incongruous totems represent carefully curated yet intentionally ambiguous selections rather than randomized towers of mismatched things. With a tinge of criticism toward the haphazard excesses of a privileged, upper-middle-class lifestyle—Stacker #4, for example, appears top-heavy from the casual, lopsided weight of an oversized black purse—the works ultimately point to the state or act of accumulation, rather than to the significance of the accumulated objects themselves.
In the case of the cast bronze paperweights, these tiny, dynamic sculptures aestheticize the genre of readymade used in the Stacker works by mediating the object’s physical form through a material process of fabrication. Similarly forged from found household goods (a child’s toy, a golf ball, a set of salad servers [Paperweight #9]) and often including live fruits and vegetables (a lemon, a cucumber, an olive [Paperweight #6, #7, and #11]), Pica’s paperweights espouse an equally opaque organizing criteria. As such, they exhibit a strange poetic futility and dearth of explicit reason that bends toward abstraction. Their monochromatic minimality is rendered more absurd by their physically accumulative and chaotic underpinnings.
Whether driven by a cloaked internal logic or an unseen conceptual matrix, Pica’s material juxtapositions recall our larger cultural obsession with the collating and cataloging of excess personal effects as a mode of evaluating and determining meaning (do these spark joy?). Perhaps the enormity of our abundance subconsciously implores us to exert control over our possessions, or perhaps there is a more apt question for framing our desires: Do we bestow meaning unto objects, or does their intrinsic meaning define us?
Amalia Pica: Accumulations and Overlaps runs from September 11–October 30, 2021 at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (1010 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038).