The School for Objects Criticized (Installation view)
Alexandre Singh The School for Objects Criticized, 2010 Multimedia installation Courtesy Harris Lieberman, New York; Art:Concept, Paris; and Monitor, Rome. Daphne, the Slinky, is a strident feminist. Sergei, the bleach bottle, is a lecherous Marxist—or rather a neo-post-Marxist, as he insists on calling himself. Tape players Lucian and Osmin are opinionated intellectuals. In Alexandre Singh’s comedy of manners, the personalities of the characters are as one-dimensional as their bodies are immobile. His allegorical device helps fix them in the audience’s mind as their conversation spins out on vertiginous loops and wild tangents, loosely centered on a debate of the merits of The School for Objects, an installation by Alexandre Singh almost identical to the one that viewers encounter here. The School for Objects Criticized inverts the roles of artwork and spectator by letting sculptures speculate on the world of humans. Their bombastic utterances on art cast doubt on our own discussions of art and culture, on the contradictory and ill-considered ideological criteria we often use to judge the worth of art Singh‘s work refers to the self-aware theater of Molière (the title of this work and the unrealized one discussed therein riff on The School for Wives and The School for Wives Criticized) and the satirical writings of Lucian Samosata, the tape player’s namesake, who in the third century parodied both the Socratic method and the waning Roman pantheon in dialogues among impotent deities. Influences of Oscar Wilde and Woody Allen can also be felt. Singh’s collages, performances, and installations draw connections between works and ideas of disparate periods to position culture as a continuous field of playful, reflexive thought, rather than a sub-segment of civilization that develops linearly, determined by changes in technology and politics. The School for Objects Criticized connects to themes of “Free” in its desire to move against the prevailing winds of change, expressed in the use of an outmoded genre—the theatrical comedy of manners—to mock aspirations to articulate the essence of our age.
Photography Credit
Photography: Benoit Pailley
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