The Architecture of Memory is a focused examination of Paula Crown’s artwork in an international biennale festival setting with architecture as the thematic backdrop. Installed in Studio Cannaregio, a new exhibition space, in the oldest part of Venice, the exhibition runs concurrently with the 16th Venice International Architectural Biennale adding a distinctive and independent voice to the “Freespace” themed festival.
Crown’s multifaceted works incorporate painting, sculpture, video, and installation. Working from critical references and advanced studio practices, Crown examines public interactions with significance and wit. This exhibition underscores the basic building blocks of signs and indexes that inform contemporary sculpture and architecture.
Cast in free-flowing directions across the gallery space, hundreds of red, crushed cups lay on the floor in what seem to be remnants of a party. The installation, SOLO TOGETHER (2017), elicits narratives of cultural success and excess. Issues of personal and collective interactions, sustainability, and environmental carelessness all resonate with this iconic form. The red cups, usually made from molded polystyrene plastic, are deliberately cast in heavy plaster inverting them into unique objects.
The movement of Chain Mesh (2018), projected in an adjacent gallery space, references running water or billows caused by wind. The metal mesh remains connected as it streams, creating a hypnotic rhythm. Its minimalist and coded aesthetics are cast against the disorder and unpredictability of SOLO TOGETHER.
Chalice (2018), expands on the motif of the Solo Cup. Introducing a dramatic shift in materiality, this monumental sculpture continues Crown’s ongoing exploration of the human relationship to mark-making in the Anthropocene age. The sculpture, a mannerist, twisted iteration of the cup, introduces a dramatic shift in color and material for the series. The 7-foot fiberglass monument gleams golden, taking a commanding shape. The form of the Solo Cup is once again transformed at a scale and finish that provoke questions of value, worth, myth, ceremony, and consumption. Placing a golden vessel at heroic scale in the gallery brings to mind mythic objects; the Holy Grail of Arthurian literature, the Holy Chalice of Christianity. The art object takes the place of the religious in the exhibition playing on themes of reverence and our instinct to seek out a higher meaning. Looking up into the reified Chalice, one is sure to ask, “what is it that we believe in?”
Paula Crown: The Architecture of Memory is a programming partner with the American Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale organized by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. This project is curated by Peter Doroshenko and organized by Dallas Contemporary.