In the Realm of Carceral Cool
(excerpt, p. 4)
Literary and visual works, which are as
uninteresting as used postage stamps
and perforce as lacking in variety, are
now nothing more than an abstract commerce.
Because the video and sculptural part of Magali Reus's
work is particularly mute and abstract, it lends itself at
first glance to associations which are as open as they are
subjective. A film buff will perhaps see in Background a
homage to Claire Denis's Beau Travail
. A sports fan will
read in it an ode to training and the obsessive improvement
of the body. Attentive onlookers will appreciate the
subtlety of the casts, and the mastery of the production.
It might also be possible to see these sculptures as echoes
of art forms from the 1960s. From post-Minimalism to a
slightly Californian trend? Or as characters?
At times, projections made about Magali Reus's
work say more about the tastes and obsessions of those
looking at it, than about the work itself. This can give rise
to an understandable feeling of annoyance, the impression
of being in front of a puzzle, or a somewhat overly
recalcitrant Sudoku. What is more, the very painstaking
and controlled work leaves at first sight no room for any
accident, nor for any manner of personal expression.
The titles are in a generic English, bordering on caricature:
Lift, Background, Closure, Finish, Pattern Recognition,
Accessory, Renewed Purpose. So her work features abstract,
minimal and generic forms—and these three terms are
not taken here as synonyms, but rather as three different
strategies for keeping the logos at a distance. No outside
discourse makes up for the genericness of the forms. And
Miss Reus is extremely cautious when it comes to commenting
about her work. She scrupulously avoids guiding
readings of it, and merely says what it is not. Unlike many
artists whose sculptural forms work and acquire meaning
because of their inclusion in a broader narrative, forever
being re-written, Magali Reus offers only very few hints.
These works are “flexible,” she concedes.
She nevertheless uses different methods to load
her pieces with a symbolic content, and greatly increase
their potential associative power.