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Sculptural Sorcery: Ian Pedigo’s Assemblages of the Natural and Manufactured

By Allison Meier

March 19, 2014

Assembling pieces of the natural and manufactured worlds, Ian Pedigo constructs sculptural balances of disparate materials. Some of his newest creations are on view in his solo show Cosmopolitan Sleep Positions at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery on the Lower East Side.
It seems a little bit like the New York–based, Alaska-born artist is playing exquisite corpse with his materials. In the especially balanced “Waiting Deaf for the Untamed” (2014), dual pigeon feathers propped up on pine cones connect to the severed back of a chair, which curves up into deer rib bones that sway forward with the furniture. The feathers appear again in “Herald of Breathlessness” (2014), where they fly up from the jagged form of a found wood shard. Pedigo has been experimenting with this collage of materials for a while, with previous exhibitions at Klaus von Nichtssagend including Accumulations of Matter in 2010 and Dawn Goes by Round the Neck in 2011.
There’s a confident grace in the connection of materials: each one is allowed to stand out on its own, even while part of a whole that may include pops of neon shoelaces or acid-hued Plexiglas. That contrast between the natural — bits of animals and wood — and the unnatural — manufactured plastic and fabric in different colors — is what makes the sculptures so interesting to examine. Modernist minimalism aside, there’s a sculptural sorcery about them. They’re somewhere between the idle creations of found objects you might pull together while watching the ocean from a beach and a deliberate witchcraft of mixing materials into a new form of power.
The two-dimensional work in Cosmopolitan Sleep Positions is weaker, as the deftness of material is lost in inkjet prints. Overall, though, it’s a thoughtful show, and while the small spaces of Lower East Side galleries like Klaus von Nichtssagend can cramp an artist or cause them to hold back, you get the feeling of Pedigo really embracing every inch of the room to give poetic perspectives on the mingling of materials.