Julie Rafalski

A Container for an Archive

Richard Artschwager's 'Untitled' installation comprises of plywood sculptures resembling shipping containers. Each container is empty, but its form suggests a particular functional object: those of tables, chairs, coffins and pianos. It is easy to imagine the contents. These empty boxes become almost like a word on a page, a sign referring to something outside itself and invisible.

Each container seems to suggest an archive of possibilities. While looking at a container, one begins to think of what sort of a table might be hidden behind the plywood; all sorts of tables come to mind.

A container also suggests movement and the passage of time: the contained objects might have been or will be stored and preserved for a period of time or they might have been or will be in transit sometime in the future. But for now they remain in a no-man's land- latent and waiting.

They also conceal that which they seemingly contain. This inaccessibility to what is inside suggests a certain defiance - these boxes do not want to communicate and would rather remain silent.

This piece reminds me of Ryan Gander's Alchemy Box pieces which consist of sealed boxes of various types. In them are collected objects which cannot be seen. A list of the box's contents is usually pinned onto the wall near it. The viewer is left to imagine the contents. The images that he/she conjures up then become part of the piece. So that each individual will see something slightly different.

A collection of things that are invisible, perhaps non existent, that call the imagination to conjure them up in the mind's eye could also refer to memories and how the past is constructed- always in the here and now- while starting at a silent box whose contents are inaccessible.