‘BLOWOUT’ – a look at consumer culture

Liz Magor’s “BLOWOUT,” on display at the Renaissance Society gallery. (Contributed photo)

Staff writer

Canadian artist Liz Magor insists on “BLOWOUT,” her exhibition on at the Renaissance Society after a run at Harvard University, being written in all-capitalization. In her artist’s statement, she recalled seeing a peony blossom in her Vancouver, British Columbia, garden drop all its petals in one motion — what was once nothing became something before suddenly becoming nothing again.

“‘Blowout’ is a word for that last moment in the cycle, when there’s no point in saving anything and you let go,” said Magor, who was commissioned to make nearly all the work in “BLOWOUT” specifically for the show. “The promise in that means, OK, no more hanging on, I’ll blow it all, like, I’ll put all my stuff on the street.”

In “BLOWOUT,” Magor continues with her career-defining exploration of how humans relate to objects. Stuffed animals, objects of dear value to children and of nostalgia to adults, are, of course, made filthy from their close proximity to dirty, snotty kids. Here they come entombed in transparent Mylar film boxes but brought back to life, anthropomorphized so as to disconcertingly, tenderly grasp at blankets.

Candy wrappers sit atop the Mylar. Animal figures hang from the ceiling, grasping garment bags. Purses made from polymerized gypsum sit atop unmade Ikea furniture in their stacked, flat-packed boxes. Down-market second-hand shoes, near-miss aspirational approximations of high fashion, have been carefully arranged in customized boxes.

“These new sculptures by Liz Magor are at once active, awkward, humorous, grotesque, and joyful,” says Solveig Øvstebø, chief curator and executive director of the Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave., fourth floor, who co-curated the exhibition. It is a picture of suspended decay.

“BLOWOUT” is on through June 23.