For his solo show at Reserve Ames, “Scalar-Daemon,” David Muenzer froze ingot molds filled with neon highlighter ink in an industrial freezer. He then stacked the frozen ingots on top of a platform placed in RA’s bucolic backyard shed. The platform has three recessed vitrines. Like frozen alien gold, the ingots melt, lemony-gossamer, into one of the recessed vitrines (now resembling an ink cartridge). They also slightly drip down the platform and onto the floor.
Highlighter Ingots (2015-2016) mischievously subverts the humorless minimalist legacy, turning a discrete unit or tube of color into its own reflexive anti-event. As a before-and-after, the sculpture comprises two visual experiences, transferring its vertical yellow y-plane into a honeyed-horizontal. This “scalar” system is more like a linear function with vectors, making Muenzer’s work hard to pinpoint, similar to artist Pierre Huyghe’s open-ended performance-events. When a thing is made to be radically altered, so vulnerable to the crystalline fragility of hydrogen bonds, it evokes a sense of terminus, of endings the most nostalgic of us often contemplate.
The piece is also an analytical resolution to a widespread problem: part of its cleverness lies in the fact that you can’t easily sell it (emphasis on “easily;” see Christie’s auction record of Tom Friedman’s Untitled pencil shaving, 1992). As the perfect non-event, ice melting is commonplace and ubiquitous. Performance-like, Highlighter Ingots might be as interchangeable and fungible as time itself. Minimalist Eva Hesse’s discussion of her work in 1968 becomes apropos: “It is the unknown quantity from which and where I want to go,” said Hess. “As a thing, an object, it accedes to its non-logical self. It is something, it is nothing.”
David Muenzer, “Scalar-Daemon,” January 24 – March 6, 2016 at Reserve Ames, 2228 Cambridge Street, Los Angeles, CA 90006, http://reserveames.com/.