Liz Larner’s current installation on the Art Institute of Chicago’s Bluhm Family Terrace modifies Chicago’s urban park landscape as much as the modern wing’s summit. Much in the tradition of her oeuvre, this installation is as much about the intersecting spaces Larner’s objects occupy as it is about the sculptures themselves.
The relationship between Larner’s two works is not immediately discernible. X (2013), a reflective stainless steel casting of a voluminous, crawling “X”, is slung low to the ground and curves in upon itself, interplaying perceptions of mass and weight with a curious conflation of space. Alternately, 6 (2011), Larner’s planar construction of stainless steel beams cast in tricolor shades of polyurethane extends into space, belying structures not visible, but anchored to the object. If you are unfamiliar with the terrace, one might not realize that the wooden platform supporting the installation is itself a part of the project. Expanding to fill almost the entirety of the exhibition space, it invites and complicates a close inspection of the sculptures in a reified environment. Both a plane on which Larner is plotting her landscape interventions and a performative threshold for the audience, the oversized ash pedestal magnifies a dialogue between X and 6.
Against the backdrop of Millennium Park and the metallic eruption of the Pritzker Pavilion, one feels both remote and microscopically close to the elements that constitute the landscape. The sculptures, like atomic particles of the built environment they overlook, magnified towards abstraction, are both part and parcel to the vista they command while being staged precariously on its precipice.