Artist: Eric Sidner
Exhibition title: It’s Green but tastes Red
Venue: Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö, Sweden
Date: May 28 – July 4, 2015
Photography: Helene Toresdotter, images courtesy of the artist and Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö
Eric Sidner’s exhibition “It’s Green but tastes Red” is about expectation and result.
The show follows a recent presentation by the artist at the Frieze art fair in New York about the way fantasy, wealth, and idealism triangulate in the aspirational spirit that grows thick in places like New York City. An introductory text recounting a formative experience from Leonard Nimoy’s youth, effecting his now famous, “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture underscored the presentation of a velvet painting featuring Mr. Spock’s ear, four oyster shells, and an American flag table. All of the works were looking toward a more pastoral future, desperate not to end up with that sad taste of red in their mouths leaving the fair “in the Red”. Which for businesses is an idiom for being in debt. Businesses want to be black. Being “in the Black”, means you’re fiscally solvent, and capable of fitting more assets down the drain, keeping your liquidity flowing and their dreams alive and kicking.
The art fair for many represents the antithesis of the leftist ideals that often serve as the motivation for art seen to have critical value. Coming down from the fair, the show in Malmo takes into account this artistic value judgment in relation to its location in Sweden, who along with its Scandinavian neighbors are often thought to have implemented these social ideas successfully.
A series of house shaped sculptures serve as the corner stone of the exhibition drawing their inspiration from a group of ritual clay objects found in Iraq and Syria around 2400 B.C. The artist’s initial attraction to these objects was rooted in their animism and the way their supple clay surfaces exuded appealing warmth that present the viewer with a considerate lack of imagery, providing a place to rest. You could imagine living happily in one of these, possibly with a group of tiny people, co-mingling, surrounded by other similar but not uniform clay homes in a beautifully symbiotic relation between man and nature.
This earthy daydream is complicated upon considering that the sculptures combine both the representation of a house, and a chair or step, both of which imply the existence of a larger being. One whose weight was the reason for those previously appealing smooth and wavering surfaces. The works in the show are made of plaster, whose status lies below that of ceramic, a material and tradition yielding wares often surviving millennia.
Approaching the works the viewer is placed in the position of this larger being, with the potential to sit or step on the sculpture, given that you are obviously too large to live in them. The potential for this condescension is the danger of being on the left side of the color wheel. Like leaving the fair with red in your mouth, the downside to coming in from the left with its well-meaning aspiration is _going in Red and coming out Green.