We recently got a chance to visit Alex Da Corte at his studio.
Objects and their significance has been the topic of a few contemporary artists featured on Sick of the Radio, most recently Cosima von Bonin, but in a recent studio visit Sick of the Radio has made Alex Da Corte thoughtful addition to this topic– or rather to this conversation. To viewers the “conversation” happening between artists and their work, or artists and the work of other artists may be elusive.
Luckily, Da Corte provides thoughtful introspection on this conversation topic. In a 2008 Cool Hunting video Da Corte explains, “I have a passion for objects and really little things that may or may not be overlooked. [By] embracing them, pulling them in, working with them– really tacky things, things that are deamed the worst– but to covet them, to bring them to a higher level and present them in a way that is really elegant even though it is just the gaudiest thing ever, it poses a challenge for me to transform this object that is one thing and turn it into something greater and present it to people in a way that they can appreciate it as much as I do.”
In this thought Da Corte is saying a lot while simultaneously being completely articulate about the work of his art. First he provides a confessional, “I have a passion for objects and really little things,” and one may argue that this pechant for objects is commonplace, however for Da Corte passion is probably an understatement. For example, Da Corte’s sculpture of a snake is constructed out of acryllic nails with a shiny, glittering underbelly and a rattling tail of silver. Just the two words, “acryllic” and “nails”, make me cringe, but Da Corte fluently translates these small objects into scales, appropriate for snake skin. By glittering the snakes belly and mounting the rainbow reptile on a mirror, Da Corte is artist as snake charmer. The effect is a visually striking sculpture, attractive through the shine and gaud.
Alex Da Corte 2011
Da Corte is also keen to speak to the fact that his passion stems from an appreciation he has for tacky objects, perhaps those objects with a short shelf life, fad objects. His appreciation becomes an expression that is mutually beneficial for both the artist and the viewer. By appreciation, I think Da Corte is also talking about a potential that these objects have to be not just kitchy or disposable, but their potential for becoming more “elegant.”
In terms of elegance my eye is drawn to this wall composition. In exploring this verticle space one notices the wrought iron candle holder, upon which Da Corte has allowed masks and other upright objects to perch. By positioning these objects on the wall, as one hangs a painting, Da Corte pays his respect to these objects and invites the viewer to do the same. He puts the objects where candles are meant to go– where a source of light would glow. By doing so the objects read in relation to one another as totally obscure, totally distinct yet elegant, because they fit together with minimal tension, thanks to the protruding rings that allow the objects to rest as they are on display.
Da Corte’s handling of found objects and his ability to recontextualize them into a work of art has most recently landed him in the Team Gallery in New York City as part of a group show entitled Re: Empire. This exhibit refers to Bret Easton Ellis’s Newsweek article entitled “Charlie Sheen is Winning.” The article, published in March, is a perspective on culture that presents two categories of culture; one that differentiates itself by maintaining a self-awareness of its own disrespect and humor, compared to the other category of culture Ellis distinguishes as being “solemn” and “self-important” . Team Gallery describes Da Corte’s contribution to the exhibit:
“Alex Da Corte’s sculptures are compositions of found and altered objects that are handled with a lurid sensibility akin to a horror-movie. His installations evolve out of an interest in material culture and personal exchanges. Unlike the slick shelving of Haim Steinbach’s sculptures, Da Corte presents his works as gestural Boschian arrangements affixed to the wall, using commonplace methods of display.”
It is interesting to note Da Corte’s participation in this group exhibit because in his work there is an element of self-awareness that makes the work all the more successful. It is not the self-awareness of the objects themselves but the self-awareness that Da Corte imparts them with as he continues on his intentions to make objects that he knows are tacky and gaudy into works of art. Art that may disrespect a traditional or historic perception of art or that may evoke a sense of humor about the seriousness of some art in the world.
Written By: Mary Smith