The objects, according to Dodge, come from myriad places—found, given to him, used, unused. He selects them based on intuitive reactions “to a situation or a place or a landscape,” he said. “I’m really interested in the intersection between what something is, how something is, what kind of history it might have.” Objects have a certain force or energy that he helps elicit via his interventions. In this particular exhibition, he highlights, among other ideas, human cruelty to the world around us.
If Dodge posits dead bees as valid sculptural components, artist
once went to an even greater extreme when he placed living goats in a gallery setting. In 2011, the goats roamed the white cube expanse of Andrew Kreps. Continuing with the theme, Bader included live, adoptable kittens in a 2012 exhibition at MoMA PS1
(a nearby center replaced the cats as they received new homes).
In a 2014 show at Andrew Kreps, Bader included a variety of everyday American objects, ranging from a pair of Nike sneakers and a white Rubbermaid trash can to dolls, a dildo, and a desk. He titled each work Object with a unique distinguishing letter (“A,” “A2,” “S,” and so on). The gallery became a pseudo-archive of contemporary American anthropology and artifacts. Bader describes his interest in such mundane forms in cinematic terms. “I came from a film background, and I was interested in just kind of fixing the camera on things,” he explained. “I was interested in losing the frame and dealing with objects in space.”
In other words, viewing a printer and a bottle cap in a gallery setting forces the viewer to pay attention to them in a new way. Artists working with found objects aren’t just shifting ideas about what art can be, but about how to look at it, as well: Art viewing is about directing one’s focus in a manner that the institutional setting uniquely permits.