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Yorkshire Sculpture International

22 June – 29 September 2019

Release date: Monday, 3 June 2019

Rebecca Land

  • By Rebecca Land
  • Henry Moore Institute
  • Head of Marketing & Communications

From new work by international artists to sculpture drawn from world-class collections, this festival across Leeds and Wakefield showcases sculpture in all its forms.

Yorkshire Sculpture International is delivered by the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle made up of the Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It showcases the breadth and diversity of contemporary sculptural practice, inspiring audiences to rethink what they understand the form to be.

At the Henry Moore Institute, Phyllida Barlow’s assertion that ‘sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms’ brings together five extraordinary artists whose work looks at the relationship between material culture and an understanding of human history, present and future. Within the trajectory and methods of anthropology lie the foundations of history and all social sciences. Objects play a pivotal role in that framework, with material culture often made to function as a form of black box recorder that can play back history, identity, belonging and difference. The exhibition at the Institute reflects upon this responsibility of objects.

New commissions by Tamar Harpaz, Rashid Johnson and Maria Loboda in the Institute’s main galleries invite the viewer to consider the responsibilities of objects within an anthropological framework. Cauleen Smith’s 2018 film Sojourner presented within a new installation, reimagines the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California, as a radical feminist utopia, while Sean Lynch’s project for the Henry Moore Institute Research Library is based on the life and work of ‘Flint Jack’, a nineteenth-century Yorkshire antiquarian, vagabond and highly skilled artisan, who sold fake megalithic axe heads and ceramic and stone carving forgeries.

Tamar Harpaz (b.Jerusalem) is known for sculptures that use light, mirrors, and lenses to create uncanny optical illusions. Combined into meandering installations, they unfold into narratives that touch on the cinematic and spectacular, but lay bare the simple mechanisms of their creations. While allowing space for free association, her work often emerges from a consideration of borders, conflict and the histories of Feminism. Harpaz graduated from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and was the recipient of the Rijksakademie Fellowship Award in 2016, and the Wolf Fund Anselm Kiefer Prize in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include those at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Edel Assanti in London (2018). Other recent shows include March Madness, Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen (2017); Kitchen Sink Dramaat, Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2014) and Girl-to-Gorilla, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2012).

Rashid Johnson (b.Chicago) makes work that explores art history, literature, philosophy, race and representation. He uses a broad range of media including sculpture, drawing and film, and materials from tribal masks and houseplants to shea butter. For YSI Johnson has made a new installation in response to a consideration of the responsibilities of objects and how materials both assign, and are assigned with, meaning. Three table sculptures each support a structure made entirely from shea butter, a material used in cosmetics and extracted from the African shea tree that has come to be traded in North America and Western Europe as a form of exoticism with healing properties. Three phases of sculpture are presented: a series of portrait busts, a reimagining of Western abstract art and, finally, in a reflection upon the fundamental human need to make and leave traces, an invitation to the audience to make their own forms. Recent exhibitions include Rashid Johnson. It Never Entered My Mind, Hauser & Wirth, St Moritz (2019); Groundings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2019); Rashid Johnson. No More Water, Lismore Castle Arts (2918) and Michael Jackson: On the Wall, National Portrait Gallery, London (2018).

Inspired by anthropology, linguistics and archaeology Maria Loboda (b.Krakow) unravels the assignation of meaning to symbols and objects throughout history, reimagining them into new combinations. For YSI Loboda has created a number of lamps, inspired by a 1920s French design, each encasing select insects. Titled The Chosen, each is a reminder of the human implications and fallibilities in collecting for preservation and what ultimately becomes historical fact. Loboda studied at Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt. Recent exhibitions include To Build a Business that will Never Know Completion, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City (2019); Sitting Here Bored Like a Leopard, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2018) and Volcano Extravaganza 2016, Fiorucci Art Trust’s annual festival on Stromboli.

Sean Lynch (b. County Kerry) reveals unwritten stories and forgotten histories, making work that extracts alternative readings of place, events and artefacts. Presented in the Henry Moore Institute Research Library, his project for YSI is based on the life and work of ‘Flint Jack’, a nineteenth-century Yorkshire antiquarian, vagabond and highly skilled artisan, who sold fake megalithic axe heads and ceramic and stone carving forgeries. Despite their lack of historical providence and verification, these objects still populate many UK museums. Lynch was educated at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. Alongside representing Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2015, he has held recent solo exhibitions at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2017); Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver (2016); Rose Art Museum, Boston (2016); Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2016) and Modern Art Oxford (2014), among many others. In 2015–16 he curated group exhibitions at Flat Time House, London, and Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford, and was recently Audain Distinguished Artist-In-Residence at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. He is currently Visiting Professor of Sculpture at Carnegie Mellon School of Art, Pittsburgh.

Cauleen Smith (b. Riverside, California) is an interdisciplinary artist best known for her work in film. Reactivating archives and harnessing the possibilities of imagination, her work especially addresses issues faced by black women today. YSI includes Smith’s film Sojourner 2018, presented as a new installation, in which she reimagines the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California, as a radical feminist utopia. The work takes its name from and pays homage to activist Sojourner Truth (1797–1883), and to the spiritual journey the film’s protagonists embark upon. Smith received a BA from San Francisco State University in 1991 and an MFA from the University of California in 1998. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts. Along with screenings at many international film festivals, her recent solo exhibitions include Cauleen Smith: We Already Have What We Need, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (2019) and Give It Or Leave It, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2017); her work also featured in the Whitney Biennial, New York (2017).

Venue details


Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
Leeds
LS1 3AH
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Open 7 days a week, except Bank Holidays, from 10am to 5pm and until 8pm on Wednesdays.
Galleries are closed on Mondays.

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