ArtForum: Dorian Gaudin

Critic's Pick

In the center of Dorian Gaudin’s current show is The coffee cup spring (all works 2018), a giant yellow conveyor belt that forms an elaborate loop through the space—a rectangular prism with additional horizontal, vertical, and upside-down segments. The belt itself is composed only of two chains, which carry not consumer products but two lone objects rendered in fiberglass: a disposable coffee cup and a houseplant. Jerking along endlessly at a rate slower than a moving sidewalk, the objects almost mount a commentary on postconsumer waste. (Perhaps the brown planter could be made from the recycled coffee-cup sleeve?) But their status as crafty representations rather than found objects suggests something more like a joke—as emphasized by the inclusion of a second fiberglass coffee cup on a windowsill in the back of the gallery, as if left by a gallerygoer.

Pivoting from the steel conveyor belt’s associations with industry, consumption, and construction, the other works in the show are more architectural, insisting upon a DIY aesthetic as applied to a prefab house: Here is the floral wallpaper (Forget me not carnation), there are the stairs (Things that do the same), look at the wood paneling (Busy undercover). The omnipresent whirring of the central mechanism implies that all of these items might at some point zip into the center of the room, rotating as needed to conjoin into a makeshift house.

This emphasis on synthesis and orders of operation was particularly important to Gaudin; rather than applying wallpaper to a support or affixing wood paneling to drywall, the artist made the smooth fiberglass simulacra first, then tore them from their supports and affixed new backings. Though these additional steps perform little critical work, they do infuse the exhibition with a sense of fun, à la Rube Goldberg.

September 12, 2018