For over two decades, Gedi Sibony has excavated the discarded byproducts of commerce and, through subtle interventions and specific installation, transformed the pedestrian into the lyrical. For his fifth show at Greene Naftali, The King and the Corpse, Sibony simultaneously magnifies and contracts this gesture, extracting and restaging a single, large scale structure from the built environment he has long mined for details. With the exhibition’s central maneuver, Sibony proffers a reconsideration of the found object: unbounded by scale, yet still an itinerant entity redefined by its placement in the exhibition space. Consisting of four sculptures, The King and the Corpse heightens the social implications of a hallmark of Sibony’s practice—the residual and derelict mechanisms and vessels of production—availing it not only to art historical legacies, but to social issues of power and capital.
The exhibition is titled for its central sculpture, The King and the Corpse, which consumes the volume of the ground floor space. The King and the Corpse originates as a castoff of the commercial landscape, a dispossessed, prefabricated building. On view in the gallery’s industrial first floor space, the structure is monolithic. Its façade rejects absence and narrows negative space, edging against the gallery’s ceiling. The King and the Corpse exhausts categories of modern sculpture: a found object that confounds migration, a primary structure inordinate to human scale. Circumambulated and entered, however, signifiers of the structure’s abandonment abound—rust, manmade traces, fixtures divested of function—and its center is revealed to be a hollow armature. The King and the Corpse enacts a tension between expansion and decline, signaling each, implying an inevitable, cyclical reciprocity between the two.
The three sculptures installed in the rear galleries shift the exhibition to the scale of the viewer and amplify the relational poetics and allegorical layers established by The King and the Corpse. Carefully placed, The Serpentine Force, The Shivered, and The Spellblinder are precarious, slight, and defanged.