Jeff Carter: Art Ltd. Magazine

Sep 12, 2014

Jeff Carter: “A Study in Lost Opportunity” at The Mission “The Common Citizenship of Forms” at DePaul Art Museum
Robin Dluzen

“It’s likely that viewers of Jeff Carter’s exhibition at The Mission will find his aesthetic very familiar. The paper-filled particle board, nickel-plated aluminum brackets and birch veneers featured in the sculptures of the Chicago-based artist are immediate signifiers of one of the most accessible and ubiquitous of household brands: IKEA. Employing a process popularly referred to as “IKEA hacking,” Carter deconstructs and reconstructs this company’s furniture, both highlighting and undermining the compositions and functions of the objects. However, for Carter, IKEA hacking is no end in itself. At the crux of his practice is a regard for modern design and architecture, with IKEA serving as an illustration of this ideology, a counterpoint to it, and a conceptual entry point for the viewer.

In “A Study in Lost Opportunity,” Carter’s four pieces are based upon a design by German Bauhaus pioneer Walter Gropius with Adolph Meyer that was submitted as a part of Chicago’s famous Tribune Tower architecture competition in 1922. The Gropius/Meyer design did not win, and so was never constructed. Here, Carter creates scaled approximations of the proposed tower, with shelves, rods and various other IKEA materials composing the structures. In Untitled #5 (Chicago Tribune Tower), (2014), laminated MDF boxes sport protruding, pink, fabric pouches subtly inflating and deflating as motorized fans hidden within the structure turn on and off. Carefully engineered for operation, though not to perform an actual service, Carter’s works are both humorous critiques of and knowing odes to this school.”

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Related Artists:

Jeff Carter, Mel Ramos