Tiziana La Melia
organized by Jen Hutton
9 June to 13 August 2011
For a period in the early 1980s, Liz Magor made a series of sculptures and bookworks based on a seemingly insignificant anecdote. Each work articulated the story of Dorothy, an acquaintance of the artist, who for most of her life remained at 98 pounds—a weight that the woman most identified with—though she recorded several fluctuations at various points in her life. The Most She Weighed / The Least She Weighed, a sculpture that Magor completed in 1982, visualized Dorothy’s lifetime using two collections of cast lead objects—such as eggs, bananas, and light bulbs—on a pair of metal shelves to approximate these two extremes.
It is curious to think, in an age where representations of one’s identity seem hinged on more pressing concerns—political, sexual, racial—how weight, articulated as tangible objects in Magor’s work, becomes a qualifier for someone’s lifetime. Similarly, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s candy spills come to mind, in the sense that the objects that comprise his portraits generate an overwhelming presence of lives lived, as well as a sense of absence as they are dispersed and depleted.
It is within this framework that the group exhibition The Most She Weighed / The Least She Weighed begins by bringing together a selection of works that “bracket” a biography of a woman that, in this case, doesn’t really exist. Her presence and her absence are described through works that evoke a body, or allude to weight as a state of mind. These works sketch out a portrait of a person who might be or once was, but one that is far from complete.
The exhibition’s narrative impulse prevails in the accompanying reader, an anthology of previously published writing by Tiziana La Melia, Liz Magor, Daphne Marlatt, Sandra Meigs, and Michael Snow.