Sunday, November 9, 2014

Eva Hild at Nancy Margolis

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Biomorphic art first seemed to appear in the early 20th century with folks like MirĂ³, Arp and Tanguy. Basically this is art which is evocative of biological forms without really being meant to point to any particular biological organism or organisms.  Biomorphic art is usually used to highlight the absurdity of our bodily needs in comparison to our belief systems which tell us that we are ‘higher’ than our biological functions. So biomorphism has often questioned the extent to which we are noble in reason, infinite in faculty, in action like an angel and in apprehension like a god. At her latest show at Nancy Margolis, Eva Hild adds her own little twists and creativity to this biomorphic tradition.

It’s always fun to look at biomorphic pieces and see how differing biological processes, forms or functions might be used. In the series of darker sculptures we see that these figures are clearly not photosynthetic flowering plants. They seem to be more fungal, yet, unlike a fungus, these organisms do not seem to be parasitically attached to anything. How do they get energy? We don’t know. They are sort of huge, free standing, auto-generating fungi-like things, defying the second law of thermodynamics. Despite their size, however, they seem as benign as giant walruses at the zoo. In each of these pieces the apex or culmination of the organism’s development is a round hole in an olive like thing through which, I’m assuming, spores or semen or some reproductive substance may be able to shoot out. The structures ultimately become penis-like conduits. Will this lead to asexual or sexual reproduction?

Although these are benign walrus-like creatures, their function is, essentially, something active and aggressive. The entire organism is geared solely toward the reproduction of the entire organism.  It is sort of a monument to Schopenhauer’s ‘will-to-reproduce’.  This is the active and aggressive reproducing itself.  Arthur is ringing in my ears now: "The purpose of an emotional communion between man and woman is procreation, although those in love are oblivious to nature's deceitfulness, making the actual process seem more noble than it is.” Yet, penicillin comes from a fungus so who knows what properties this organism may have for ‘higher’ beings.

Hild’s white sculptures seem to celebrate the ‘passive’ or ‘receptive’ as opposed to the ‘active’ represented by the darker pieces. Her white pieces seem more bone or skeletal-like. In the ancient world it was recognized that bones do not seem to decay and can last, potentially, forever. So bones were often equated to the eternal.  In Hild’s pieces we see hollow structures that almost seem meant to be connected through some type of piping to other systems. If they are meant to be skeletal then some type of tissue must have evolved around these structures and some type of viscera may have developed within.

So, essentially, both of these pieces owe their very forms or structures to ‘principles’ – one the principle of active or aggressive desire, the other, possibly, to passive acceptance or fulfilment of aggressive desire. 

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