Weapons of Deconstruction

March 16, 2009

The title of the new exhibition by alumnus Robert Lazzarini (BFA 1990 Fine Arts) gets right to the point: “Guns and Knives” features six new sculptural works that depict distorted images of .38 Smith and Wesson Model 10 revolvers and a cluster of kitchen knives. As installed at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut, the pieces are meant to disorient the viewer, both through Lazzarini’s manipulations of the objects’ shape and perspective, and the angled walls to which the works are affixed.

Lazzarini spoke to the Briefs about the show, which is on view at the Aldrich through Sunday, September 13:

During a time of war and recession, guns and knives come with a lot of baggage. How are you using and/or bucking those associations?
I’m not interested in topicality or current events as they relate to the art. I’m interested in other aspects of these objects, such as issues of violence or fear.

What kind of conversations do you hope your work will spark?
I’m following a set of concerns in my investigation, issues of phenomenology and vision. I’m interested in the idea of physically seeing. It’s not just a static sculpture—it’s doing something, it has a capacity. The work should expand and contract as the viewer walks around it. I hope that solicits a dialogue about the elusiveness of things.

Are you using actual guns and knives?
They’re made from the materials that the actual objects are made from. The guns are made from carbon steel, walnut grips, etc. The knives are metal with plastic or wood handles. It’s a way of having a one-to-one relationship with the original objects.

How do you distort these objects after fabricating them?
I use compound mathematical distortions, where any manipulation of a part affects the whole. They’re generated by algorithms and they’re compounded, distorted along all three axes. I’m not offering up a vantage point where you can stand and say, ‘There’s the normal gun.’ I try to emphasize the relationship between the memory of the original object in the viewer’s mind and what the new object is becoming.

Image: Robert Lazzarini, gun (i), 2009. Courtesy of the artist; Robert Lazzarini is represented by Deitch Projects, New York.

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