The show’s centerpiece was Black Square Problem Setting
; its title references Russian avant-garde artist ’s
iconic painting and the process of creating bouldering problems—the routes that people pursue on the walls of climbing gyms. When Luk was studying and working in Boston, he frequently used an indoor bouldering wall on MIT’s campus, where advanced climbers and novices shared a cramped, sweaty space. He likens the experience to the exchanges between expert and newcomer in the art world—between curator and artist, or two artists at differing career stages.
The installation is made up of black wood panels secured around one of the gallery’s columns, with hand and foot holds bolted into the surfaces. Made from sand, resin, and fiberglass, the holds were cast from objects found in the gallery and the neighborhood—a water bottle, part of a car bumper, a piece of a fire hydrant, an electrical outlet, and more. The artist invited seasoned climbers to set actual bouldering problems on the work. At the show’s opening, they taught visitors how to move their bodies up the forms.
The idea, Luk said, was to get people to interact with art in the same way that an artist does—touch it, shape it, leave your mark.