Inside the boxes melancholy pencil people reside in twos or threes, in frozen theaters outfitted with mirrors and windows, inside walls of wood and on floor of lead tiles.
The pencil-thin creatures have eraser helmets, tiny faces with soulful expressions, pointed feet and breasts of pink or yellow lead. They spend the day drawing, reading, or erecting exacting castles of cards.
Now we crouch and bring our face to the glass, like children who watch sea creatures at the Aquarium, or exotic wildlife in the Museum of Natural History’s panoramas. Enter the box. Remember? Once, not so long ago, weren’t we sitting on cold metal chairs and watching as an invisible puppeteer pulled the strings to home-made dramas? Maybe much later in life we even read Kleist’s text on puppeteers.
We walk on to Böröcz’s massive fruitwood sculpture of a sealed wagon and turn the handle on the roof. We listen to the haunting, repetitive sound of hundreds of feet stomping: sculpted galoshes attached to wooden headless poles. We may believe that behind the panels people are pressed in together like cattle. But strangely, even as we hear these Holocaust sounds muffled behind closed doors, we may also think of children waving groggers at a Purim festival to ward off evil Hamman.Or we may hear the screams of recent tortures, in recent wars, in prisons we know of and prisons we don’t.
We turn to a small gaggle of ostrich eggs, which sprout storks made of exotic wood. Their beaks are shaped like everyday tools (a rake, a broom, a drill). Their gender and age, personality and trade are made obvious through their posture.
Now let’s wonder:
If pencils can become people. If wood, eggs and tools can sprout into human-like birds .If people can be objectified and turned into galoshes (or soap, or ashes, at will) then where does it leave us? Exactly what do we mean with our claim to be human? On what precarious frontier do we stand, every one of useveryday, walking, talking, eating, pretending while the world spins on its tale?
These are, in my mind, some of the questions addressed by Böröcz’s art, in turn poetic, slanted, un-loquacious, obsessive, dramatic, ironic and kind.
His work rarely stands taller than us. It is often much smaller, but its vibrations are lasting and deep.
— Carole Naggar
Adam Baumgold gallery
74 East 79th Street
January 21- March 5
Tues-Sat 11-5.30 pm