Magenta Plains is pleased to present No One’s Things, an exhibition of new sculpture by Nathaniel Robinson. No One’s Things plays subtly on a theme from Robinson’s previous show titled Discrete Pieces, in which stand-alone sculptural works depicted commonplace things such as a mailbox, a container ship, a bush and a fence. The title of Robinson’s newest show is a literal translation of the legal term, res nullius, which dates back to Roman law and is a designation for items of ownerless property which are not considered to be sacred and therefore not protected from anyone who decides to take them.
Robinson’s sculptures are simple in geometry yet made more complex through the artist’s direct manipulation of the forms. Sculptures are conceived and created as a whole, often from a single handmade mold rather than built up from smaller parts. Pressure applied to one location affects the entire shape—for example, the crushing of the centers of Cup (1) and Cup (2) causes the circular openings at each end to distort. The sculptures are perceived to be pushed and pulled by forces internal or external.
Robinson speaks of these sculptures as being derived from things in the world rather than direct representations or appropriations. Although they reference subjects of various sizes, the sculptures in the exhibition are made to be nearly commensurate in scale in order to bring about an approximate sameness of presence. Though recognizable as utilitarian items such as an umbrella, tent, tire, cups, and a jug, Robinson’s sculptures are relieved from any branding or specificity in design. The anonymity lends itself to a democratic familiarity, leaving space for works to shift in unexpected ways.
Robinson acknowledges the tension present in assigning identity whether through a “belonging” and categorization or through particulars which are individuating. The installation’s visual impact is that of wholeness, while at the same time the viewer is struck by the embodiment of each entity’s quintessential nature. However, Robinson directs us to double back and instead consider the works individually in more abstract terms, allowing space for imaginative projection and sympathetic identification with the objects.
Nathaniel Robinson (b. 1980, RI) has held solo exhibitions at Launch F18, New York, NY; Feature, Inc., New York, NY; Devening Projects, Chicago, IL; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. Robinson has also been included in group exhibitions at On Stellar Rays, 33 Orchard and White Columns in New York, as well as in Brussels, Leipzig, Dusseldorf and Melbourne. Robinson’s work has been written about in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Artforum, and Art in America. He lives and works in Brewster, NY.