The sculptures in this gallery, often referred to as “assemblages,” are constructed from a range of found items. The process of combining like and unlike things challenges conventional notions of sculpture by incorporating materials taken from the everyday world. Presented in new combinations and settings, these materials both invoke and question the contexts from which they emerge.
For Jimmie Durham, David Hammons, and Cady Noland, making an assemblage—which involves selecting preexisting things rather than creating entirely anew—is a political gesture. By reframing and even subverting cultural icons and stereotypes, all three artists, in very different ways, recast emblems of American culture in order to call attention to the country’s baneful history of violence against its own subjects. Although the works on display were made in the late 1980s and early 1990s—a period of dissent against decades of conservative government in the United States—the concerns they raise remain urgent.