By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The physical presence of the sculpture can be likened to twisted rawhide or rubber bands or to the tracks of roller coasters, but the work is perhaps better described less as analogous to objects than in terms of a progression of movement, beginning and ending from a fixed position, using the sorts of terms used to describe gymnastic choreography: pikes, tucks, somersaults, saltos. It’s a nimble juggernaut.
Such a sense of movement isn’t surprising coming from Deacon, who has collaborated in the past with dancers, and who has repeatedly shown himself able to make a work that reconciles relationships between the clumsy and the graceful in both form and structural function. Collaboration played a major role in this work as well. Dead Leg is billed as a work by Richard Deacon in association with Matthew Perry, who has worked with Deacon for 24 years, and is the man behind the fabrication of the piece. Deacon, who is similarly associated with Anna Zimmermann in the production of many of his ceramic works, isn’t shy about such involvement — “working through other people,” as he has termed it — and its effect on the work. In fact, he sees Perry’s involvement, not only as a fabricator but as an innovator, as significant in the development of the work. An assembly process created by the pair had a clear impact on this piece, both in its making in the studio and in its installation in the gallery, with every segment suspended from scaffolding until the whole was complete.
As has been the case with many titles given to works Deacon and Perry have cooked up together — some seemingly intended to drive home an abstracted point, some intended to obfuscate a bit — the title of the Dead Leg suggests an awareness that this object flirts with reference and even story, but such flirtation avoids literary consummation in favor of a different kind of knowing. The Dead Leg remains a kind of open metaphor that does all right in the world of language and letters, but does better with a vocabulary the mind knows through the body.
Richard Deacon in association with Matthew Perry at L.A. Louver, 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; thru January 12. (310) 822-4955.