Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso at Cloaca Projects

Shotgun Review

Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso at Cloaca Projects

By Rosa Tyhurst October 30, 2018

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Rosa Tyhurst reviews Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso at Cloaca Projects in San Francisco, California.

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The human body has one ton of air pressure exerted on it at all times. Because this force is applied in all directions, its impact is barely perceptible. It pushes down and up, creating an equilibrium that prevents the body from collapsing. These invisible forces are manifested in a recent exhibition, Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso, a sharp, monochromatic show that immerses the viewer in a nuanced physical environment. 

In the exhibition, two powder-coated black steel struts are held between the gallery’s ceiling and floor. To the uninitiated, they might have always been there. A shelf bearing a lumpy, gray concrete object is attached to each strut. Cast from assorted flea-market discards, these objects resemble oversized hybrids of hands and feet. They are simultaneously gruesome and alluring: fingers are fused together to form a bridge of a foot, and large thumbs protrude from heels. One could imagine these appendages teetering through the gallery on stilts, precariously navigating their surroundings.

Matt Borruso. Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso, 2018; installation view. Courtesy Cloaca Projects. Photo: John Borruso.

Near the gallery threshold, they would meet Plant Stand and Pedagogical Support (2018), a gnarled concrete termite hill adorned with miniature platforms and two large handles. The sculpture sits upon a reconstruction of the Ulm stool (Ulmer hocker) by the architect Max Bill (1908–1994), a multi-use piece of furniture that can function as a stool, table, or tray. Here, it serves as a pedestal. Bill studied at the Bauhaus and contributed to school’s concept of unifying art, craft, and technology. This amalgamation of disciplines is echoed throughout Borruso’s show, in particular in two prints that are pressed, rubbed, and wheat-pasted directly onto the gallery wall. One combines a cover from a 1964 Domus magazine with a black slug of a rubber hand. The other mashes together an antique vase with an image of Ozzy Osbourne's arm and torso. As in a frottage, the wall’s texture seeps through the paper, giving it goosebumps.

Despite its hard edges, Hands and Feet and Their Supports is an exhibition of human proportions and sensations. It balances classic design with cheap materials. Architectural straight lines are offset by the wobbly reality of the human form. Embodied experience occurs in this otherwise stark space. The body becomes implicit in the installation: the gray concrete floor becomes a shelf upon which viewers can rest their presence and weight, with that invisible gravitational pressure forcing everything to stay put.

Hands and Feet and Their Supports: Works by Matt Borruso was on view at Cloaca Projects in San Francisco through October 27, 2018.

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