Liz Larner: below above / Kunsthalle Zürich

Coinciding with Zurich Art Weekend 2022, Kunsthalle Zürich opens a solo exhibition with Californian artist Liz Larner (b. 1960). Over the course of her career, Liz Larner has created a diverse oeuvre that refuses to adopt a visual style. Her extensive exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich consists of two parts: a selection of works created between 1988 and 2022, and a new sculptural installation that is shown for the first time. This video provides you with a conversation between Liz Larner and the director of Kunsthalle Zürich, Daniel Baumann. The exhibition runs until September 18, 2022.

Liz Larner: below above / Kunsthalle Zürich. Zürich (Switzerland), June 3, 2022.

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Exhibition text (excerpt):

Californian artist Liz Larner creates new meaning in sculpture. Her focus is on the body, on presence and absence, and ways of thinking over time. Her work combines established and unorthodox perspectives with a detailed knowledge of history, form and material. Thus an encounter with Larner’s art is always rich and complex, it is sometimes contradictory but above all it is transformative. It is an encounter that goes beyond art and art history, that includes beauty, but also bodily experience, emotion and eros, cosmos and humour.

“This is the thing about sculpture: you need to be there, and if you are there, you can feel it and know it, you get it physically as an embodied and embedded subject. Sculpture is the art form where this happens the most, where you use your senses to navigate an object in space and gain understanding from this engagement. … Looking at sculpture is a very active form of receiving information and a very free pursuit compared to pushing buttons on a screen to find information through established pathways, just by the way each person encounters a sculpture because it’s not flat. And the light, weather, temperature, and condition of each moment are in constant flux, and sculpture must be physically moved around and sensed through movement to be understood.“ *

Larner’s interest lies in the transformation of material through form, of form through material and in the possible effects of this transformation. There is a formalist approach at work here that is oriented towards the convictions of modernism. At the same time, however, Larner is critical of the latter and says: 
“People still look for mastery and dominance. I’d like to continue without these. I have to accept things, working with surprise and acceptance instead of determination, keeping a relationship with the way things are and the way I might want them to be before they become. I go back and forth between the two.“*

Larner’s art is self-critical and political, it is deeply reflexive and philosophical. The artist is committed to experimentation and research, she understands and accepts the power of chance and repeatedly exposes herself to a wide variety of influences, approaches and considerations. This has resulted in an oeuvre developing since the late 1980s, one that does not rely on recognition. “I never felt the need for a style because the style was my approach, not what it looked like.” *

The extensive exhibition below above at Kunsthalle Zürich reveals this diversity through a concentrated selection of works created between 1988 and 2022. In addition a new, expansive, sculptural installation over 500m2 consisting of the two elements Meerschaum Drifts and Asteroids will be shown for the first time. “Making an impossible but known space with sculpture is my intention for the 2nd floor at Kunsthalle Zürich. Let’s see if it is going to work. It is a vista transforming into objects and materials and what they mean, not just as art materials but clay (for the asteroids) as part of the earth yet representing outer space; and plastic, which comes from fossil fuels but is turned into everyday objects made of unrecyclable and recyclable plastics, like toys, plastic wrapping, bags and disposable containers, taking the form of sea foam. It’s a seascape or landscape or skyscape and an intense physical and possibly emotional experience through the material present.” *

In this installation, Larner experiments with new materials, with recycling and possible developments of apocalyptic proportions. “It is about a disaster [environmental destruction] we potentially can control but seem not to have the will or consensus needed to control, and another disaster we can’t control.” *

* Liz Larner in conversation with Daniel Baumann, published in Liz Larner. below above, Kunsthalle Zürich, 2022, which will be available during the exhibition for CHF 5.-.

Liz Larner (b. 1960) lives and works in Los Angeles. She has participated in numerous exhibitions. Solo exhibitions of her work were held in 2022 at SculptureCenter in New York and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, both of which received much coverage in the American press.

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