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Heart (1-8), 2021Aluminium, digital print, steel chain / courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

Heart (1-8), 2021
Aluminium, digital print, steel chain / courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

Love-Hate-Relationship, 2017Painted bronze, bike, lock /  courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

Love-Hate-Relationship, 2017
Painted bronze, bike, lock / courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

What Are You Going to Do About It?, 2017 / Go Fuck Yourself, 2017Bronze / Edition 1/3 + II AP / Private collection, UK / photo: Lea Kunz

What Are You Going to Do About It?, 2017 / Go Fuck Yourself, 2017
Bronze / Edition 1/3 + II AP / Private collection, UK / photo: Lea Kunz

The Pony, 2004Brushed aluminium / courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

The Pony, 2004
Brushed aluminium / courtesy the artist / photo: Lea Kunz

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Liz Craft

Between You and Me

29 October 2023 – 25 February 2024 / Kunstmuseum

Californian artist Liz Craft (*1970, Los Angeles, CA, USA) makes sculptures and figurative installations that appear to be fragments in space. They seem to tell us dream-like stories summoning an atmosphere that can be associated with Surrealism, fairy tales or drug hallucinations. The formal language of her works has an immediate effect on the viewer, the techniques and materials merging without hierarchy – ranging from fabric, plastic, glass and papier mâché to synthetic resin, ceramics and bronze.

For her art, Craft draws primar­ily on ideas from the Amer­ic­an coun­ter­cul­ture of the 1960s, psy­che­del­ic ex­per­i­ences and pop cul­ture.. She bor­rows im­agery from B-movies, West­erns and hor­ror films as well as from com­ics and the aes­thet­ics of amuse­ment park back­drops. Craft fre­quently lifts fig­ures such as witches, uni­corns, mo­tor­cyc­lists, pir­ates and the Grim Reap­er out of their fa­mil­i­ar con­texts to quote, ex­ag­ger­ate or con­dense them in her works. The in­stall­a­tion Ms. Amer­ica (2022) is based on Pac-Man, a well-known char­ac­ter from the very first video games. Craft has put a red bow on the fig­ure’s head and re­duced its body to a black vel­vet toga. In con­trast to the ex­press­ive ges­tures of her Spider Ladies (2015), the fig­ures in Ms. Amer­ica are ali­en­ated through their stat­ic poses, mouths wide open and gazes look­ing blankly up at the ceil­ing.

Dis­played in the ex­hib­i­tion space, the works enter into re­la­tion­ships with each other, like act­ors in a theatre piece. The fig­ures’ gazes, words and ges­tures are ar­ranged in new con­stel­la­tions each time they are presen­ted, al­ways telling a dif­fer­ent story. In the series Speech Bubbles, wall sculp­tures whose shape re­calls the speech bubbles in comic books or in­stant mes­sages seem to be hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions amongst them­selves. The works bear punchy titles such as Suck it Hip­pie! (2017) or Do You Love Me Now (2019). The dia­logue going on between two large sculp­tures is in­dic­ated by their re­spect­ive titles: The first asks What are you going to do about it? and re­ceives a lac­on­ic Go fuck your­self as re­sponse (both 2017).

Craft’s sculp­tur­al work has a sprawl­ing qual­ity, for ex­ample the wall piece Strange Thing (2018), a para­sit­ic or­gan­ism made of elec­tric­al switch boxes and cable lines that spreads out across the walls, ex­plor­ing its bound­ar­ies. The sculp­tures call to mind that par­tic­u­lar brand of Cali­for­ni­an ir­rev­er­ence that can be summed up by the words “Too Cool for School”. This phrase re­flects an at­ti­tude de­rived from Amer­ic­an teen movies, de­scrib­ing a cas­u­al but ar­rog­ant in­di­vidu­al who likes to defy rules and so­cial codes. But it is also the title of a well-known art­icle by au­thor Den­nis Cooper about the bois­ter­ous and vi­brant art scene in 1990s Los Angeles, in the con­text of which he men­tions Craft’s name. This scene drew its life primar­ily from the ded­ic­a­tion of UC­LA’s School of Arts and Ar­chi­tec­ture, from which Liz Craft had just gradu­ated at the time the art­icle was writ­ten. Her archive life in the sun­shine (2006–2017) test­i­fies to the rel­ev­ance of this com­munity of artists. “Too Cool for School” is an ex­pres­sion that would also have made an apt title for a work by Liz Craft. Be­cause the artist likes to work with for­mu­la­tions that are trenchant and barbed but still “fun”.

In co­oper­a­tion with the Kun­sthaus Centre d’art Pasquart, Biel/Bi­enne

Curators of the exhibition

Paul-Aymar Mourge d’Algue
Stefanie Gschwend, Dir­ect­or Kun­­st­mu­­seum / Kun­­sthalle Ap­pen­zell


On the oc­ca­sion of the ex­hib­i­tion Liz Craft, a mono­graph­ic pub­lic­a­tion will be pub­lished in au­tumn 2024 in co­oper­a­tion with Kun­sthaus Pasquart.

The exhibition is kindly supported by

Hein­rich Ge­bert Kul­tursti­f­­tung Ap­pen­zell

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