Alchemy brings together a group of international artists whose work incorporates gold (or another metal disguised as gold). In each case, this precious material not only brings a sense of luxury to the work, but also ushers in connotations of the historic and cultural value various societies have placed on this rare element. As glamorous and sought after as gold may be, it’s capable of suggesting complicated politics and potent symbolism. The works in Alchemy embrace both dark and light readings of this glittering metal.
Artists for Alchemy are an international group at the forefront of contemporary practice. Teresa Margolles, whose gilded fragment of a building destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake comments on commemoration and monuments of grief. Zarina constructs minimalist shapes in gold leaf, referencing architecture and contemplative spirituality. Danh Vo gilds cardboard refuse, reimagining a simple box as wall sculpture, with marks of use as well as golden reminders of Mexican history. Luis Gispert combines gold chains and glittering stone into sparkling abstractions, referencing the decadence of rock n roll culture as well as post-war abstract painting. Lalla Essaydi uses glittering bullet casings to create garments and backdrops that refer to Islamic visual culture, which she then works into large-scale staged photographs. Rachel Sussman will create a site-specific work for the Art Center’s presentation of Alchemy, filling a crack in the floor with gold resin in homage to the Japanese tradition of “Kintsukuroi,” in which ceramics are repaired with gold. Related photographs by Sussman will also be in the exhibition.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website