Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Peters’ sculptures do something that we got unused to find these days. They work both conceptually and visually. In them, she questions and subverts ancient, classical, and symbolic figuration and their permutations over different styles and periods, from Persian, Greco-Roman to American Neo-Classicism and Art Deco.
From a conceptual point of view, her work is about the way our perception of visual objects changes when their original exhibition context and functionality are altered. Renaissance religious paintings were not considered as art but as the representation of the divine. It was after the arrival of Protestantism that few images were rescued by art lovers and moved to the sort of art cabinets that David Teniers excelled at painting. More recently, ready made conceptualism and then, minimalism, transformed the exhibition space into the index of artistry. Piero Manzoni’s ‘Merda d’artista’ (Artist’s shit) took this to its logical extreme. But where to go from there?
Well, no one seems to really know the answer to this. Sara Peters, however, offers a rather obvious solution by going back to basics to transform the viewing experience into a pleasant one. Such a simple thing is rather subversive in times when art seems to only find artistic value in ugliness. But she does not only do pleasant things to watch but she also goes all the way as to founder them in bronze.
Peters’ heads work in two ways. On one hand they are conflations of ancient and modern and on the other hand, they are explorations of form. What she does with their back of the necks and throats is more linked to design and abstraction than to figuration. The good thing is that Peters does not just brag about her intentions but she goes all the way to do it. It is this humility that I like about her very much. This show takes place until May 17 in Eleven Irvington New York City.