A Collaborative Pair’s Meticulously Fabricated Installation


As if picking up where Fischli & Weiss and Jeanne Silverthorne leave off, this Canadian-born couple strew the gallery with tangled electrical cables, strings of party lights, clusters of microphones, speakers, beer coolers, a collapsed hockey scoreboard, and a broom—all meticulously replicated (it took them two years) in pale blue and green hand-carved polystyrene. Four years’ worth of their drawings, collages, sketches, and photos sprawl across the longest wall, reminders of their one-to-one scale photos of fruit and plaster arrangements, their ice hockey pictures, and their sources—one of which was a photo of a scoreboard that collapsed in 1994 in Buffalo just before a game. “We like that sort of disaster,” Sonnenberg tells me. The largest photo, Wood in Trees, which seems to show a collapsed tree house, is boardwalk debris they stacked high in a Montreal tree. As for Third Party, the installation of party debris, “It’s nothing political but coming from Canada, you know . . . ”

Their quirky para-conceptual work is about life and art, overlaps and aftermaths. Or, as Hanson puts it, “We play hockey, we talk about politics, we use the ATM.” The works converse with and sometimes confront each other or us. Bag of Beans, paired with Bucket of Blood, stand together alone. They shaped the 17,000 or so beans out of Sculpey while watching television, keeping an eye out for people who flip the bird for an ongoing work they call “the finger tape.” “It’s the third bag,” explains Hanson. “We have a fourth in the works. When someone flips the bird we tape it. It’s a perpetual work in progress, like most things.” As for the bucket of fake blood, made of corn syrup, food coloring, and vodka, it’s a reminder of “the blood, sweat, and tears of making things.” “There’s this little sense of violence in our work,” remarks Sonnenberg sweetly, “and the inability to communicate.” The final touch: one tiny figure made of modeling compound on the floor. Don’t squash it.