Amy Brener: Harbingers is the artist’s first solo museum presentation in the US and the fifth installment of Aldrich Projects, a single artist series that features a singular work or a focused body of work by an artist every four months on the Museum’s campus. The two works on view, Flexi-Shield Harbinger (rose) and Flexi-Shield Harbinger (ice), both 2021, will be suspended from the ceiling in the Museum’s Leir Atrium, their larger-than-life forms lightly grazing the floor as they hover side-by-side in front of the lobby’s central wall.
Part of an ongoing body of work titled Flexi-Shields (2015–present), the Harbingers are made of silicone embedded with varying found, store-bought, and organic items such as auto fuses, pressed flowers, safety pins, plastic tooth flossers, mini screwdrivers, buttons, and brackets, among many other things. Brener’s mold-making process further emphasizes her interest in consumer detritus as she creates frameworks through a synthesis of leftovers: car mats, discarded container lids, and architectural pediments. The medley of everyday trinkets and throwaway objects neatly arranged in the sculptures’ compartments are the result of a meticulous process where Brener positions the assortment of items within the molds and photographs them. She then removes them and returns them to their stagings after the silicone pouring.
Brener’s knickknacks are not only chosen for their disposability and “junk drawer” appeal, but also for their wide-ranging utility. A variety of use values intrinsic to these tiny implements are essential to the functionality of the Harbingers, as the Dollar Store finds encapsulated within their rubbery niches may one day be the tools necessary for survival. Ruminating on Sci-Fi concepts and post-apocalyptic scenarios, Brener’s imagined futures are rooted in a digital world where hand tools are deemed obsolete—a reality that doesn’t seem too far off from our present-day moment. The Harbingers, as their titles imply, act as omens, signals, or forecasters, that hint to an approaching time where preservation, safekeeping, and women’s empowerment are critical. Fully equipped with “emergency kit” instruments and utensils, the Harbingers are charged with a bewitching energy; their luminous, semi-transparent bodies revealing the storage units integral to their structures, referencing both the “motherboards” foundational to technological devices as well as the life-supporting systems of the female body.
Amy Brener (b. 1982, Victoria, BC, Canada) lives and works in New York. She graduated with an MFA from Hunter College in 2010 and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2011. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at MoMA PS1, Socrates Sculpture Park and Jack Barrett Gallery in New York, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Reyes Finn in Detroit, Galerie Pact in Paris, Wentrup Gallery in Berlin, MacLaren Art Centre in Ontario, and Riverside Art Museum in Beijing.
Amy Brener: Harbingers is organized by the Museum’s Curatorial & Publications Manager Caitlin Monachino.
Top image: Amy Brener Flexi-Shield Harbinger (ice), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Barrett, New York