Aspects of production and ideas of display, value and ownership, and the manner in which these are perceived and received, are amplified and subverted in many of Nina Beier’s diverse works. The performance and meaning of objects – how they change through time or alter according to context and presentation – and their potential to appear contradictory are crucial and recurring themes in Beier’s work.
Bringing together confused objects caught between the portrait and the portrayed, the works in Valuables give us contrasting pictures of work and leisure, time and money, mortality and permanence, cessation and growth. In Minutes, Beier arranges wigs on Wagireh rugs. Originally used to pass on different family styles through generations or as samples for traveling salesmen, these small rugs are compressed summaries of all the patterns of an actual rug. The wigs, pressed against the rugs, are real hair wigs; frozen haircuts from different times, made of hair that will never grow any further. The hair stems from China and India, and has been bleached, permed and dyed in order to imitate a variety of hair types. This display of patiently grown hair and meticulously hand-weaved rugs finds its counterpart in the series Greens. Here we have pressed palm-tree-like houseplants placed on beach towels depicting bank notes of various currencies. In fact one could say that all the items of Greens and Minutes are currencies or traveling objects speaking of a global economy. But while one constellation speaks of working hours and human time, the other takes on waste of time, waste of money and non-productive activity.
Liquid Assets is a life size bronze statue of leading figure of the Mexican revolution Zapata separated into individual pieces. Only objects representing metal are left on display (weapons, spurs, belt buckles, jewelry) and here time and representation become blurred, as the original and its depiction are almost the same. Liquid Assets points to the changing interpretation and meaning of materiality and status of bronze. As a sculpture this bronze was made to outlive and commemorate its subject. In today’s world, however, bronze progressively operates as a currency – often sold, melted down and reformed to create another life and purpose.
Ceramic tiles, distinguished as the slowest moving form of interior design, carry prints of digital renderings of material textures. These are borrowed from 3D architectural programs where they are used to build provisional imagery of heavy constructions. Some are indiscernible from mass-produced imitations of stone whereas others, featuring out of scale depictions of stucco and skin, lay bare the contrasting makeup of this material.
The works within the exhibition are trapped in a place between an object and the representation of that object. They investigate ideas of time, labor and value, in the face of the transient nature of things, asserting a combative status between surface and subject, image and object.