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Bas Jan Ader at Meliksetian | Briggs
December 4, 2021 - January 22, 2022
Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader presented his installation and performance work, Light Vulnerable Objects Threatened by Eight Cement Bricks, at Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts) in June 1970, five years before he mysteriously disappeared at sea. The piece featured eight cinder blocks hanging precariously from ropes, beneath which Adar placed various objects ranging from string lights and a transistor radio to a birthday cake and pile of eggs. An oil painting beneath one cinderblock made a nascent jab at art history. At the end of the exhibition’s run, Ader performed the action that the installation itself implied, cutting each cinder block from its rope and allowing them to topple and crush the vulnerable beer cans, potted flowers, and eggs lingering below.
In a rare presentation, Meliksetian | Briggs has worked with the artist’s wife and estate to restage this work for the first time in over 50 years. On January 22, the closing day of the exhibition, a proxy will recreate Ader’s dramatic performance. There’s something comical about this performative gesture — the hanging cinder blocks imply the potential of crushing defeat, and Ader actualized this imagined eventuality, releasing the tension of the work in a way that was both satisfying and ultimately a bit underwhelming. Part comedy, part social critique, the upcoming performance gives today’s art audience a chance to re-experience a historical work.
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Photo: Bas Jan Ader, Light vulnerable objects threatened by eight cement bricks (installation view) (2021). Image courtesy of the artist and Meliksetian | Briggs.