In Practice: Isabel Mallet

    In Practice: Isabel Mallet

    Nov 2–Dec 11, 2023

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    Isabel Mallet studies the biological and technological life cycles of materials. She builds forms and systems that reconfigure given architectures, proposing sculpture as a revelatory experience of space.

    On the steel I-beams of the gallery’s ceiling, Mallet suspends three stone slabs: a gray granite, a pink granite, and a serpentine. These stones, chosen for their historical specificity in the construction of New York, can be found in buildings, monuments and public spaces throughout the city—as architecture, their durability is symbolic as much as it is physical. However, once extracted from the earth, the stone degrades at a much faster rate due to weather, water, and wear. On a geological time scale, they are quickly turning to dust.

    Using the same technology as the city’s streetlamps, Mallet modifies the gallery’s existing lights to turn on when they sense darkness. In this room, the lights respond to each other and themselves. As each ‘dusk to dawn’ photocell sensor is triggered, it in turn causes another to turn off, entering a random feedback loop.

    This summer, along the empty tree pits that line Purves Street outside of SculptureCenter, Mallet planted datura wrightii. All parts of the plant contain narcotic alkaloids which are poisonous in high doses. For some, the plant is sacred, and is used medicinally and ceremonially; for others, the plant is considered dangerous and invasive.The datura’s blooms last just one night; those that are pollinated turn into spiky bulbous seed pods that burst open when ripe. It spreads without regard to the defined spaces of the city, filling in cracks and craters, carrying out its own lifecycle, on repeat, year after year.

    In ways perceptible and not, the exhibition grafts together these different registers of time, staging extractive interruptions as flashes in daily life amid cycles of blooming, propagating, and dying beyond the human.

    With thanks to:
    Rob Boulanger, Marco Parent and Jonathan Houghton at Rock of Ages Quarry
    Darrell Petit at Stony Creek Quarry
    Tom Fabbioli, Peter Fabbioli and Mary-Margaret Fabbioli at Vermont Verde Serpentine Quarry


    In Practice 2023 is made possible by the generosity of the Elaine Graham Weitzen Foundation for Fine Arts. The Foundation’s support for SculptureCenter’s annual open call exhibition reflects Elaine Graham Weitzen’s (1920-2017) lifelong commitment to emerging artists and her exuberant support of new ideas in art. Weitzen served as a devoted Trustee of SculptureCenter from 1987 to 2017.

    Major support for the In Practice program is provided by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. The In Practice program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Leadership support for SculptureCenter’s exhibitions and programs is provided by Carol Bove, Barbara and Andrew Gundlach, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Teiger Foundation. Major support is provided by the Marguerite Steed Hoffman Donor Advised Fund at The Dallas Foundation, Karyn Kohl, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Eleanor Heyman Propp, and Jacques Louis Vidal. Support is also generously provided by the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation, Inc., with additional funding from Candy and Michael Barasch, Sanford Biggers, Libby and Adrian Ellis, Jane Hait and Justin Beal, and Amy and Sean Lyons.