Moving into Gallery 2, Zobernig confronts the architectural drama of Tate St Ives spectacular window onto Porthmeor Beach by suspending a large square of red Trevira Television TS chroma-key material across the space. A sculptural intervention, it also reminds us of the monochrome square in space which became so significant to early modernist painters such as Russian Kasimir Malevich and Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy.
But Zobernig is aware of the theatricality of this split-level gallery and how it frames the landscape associated with much of the art made in St Ives: by masking out the view with this monochrome curtain which casts a red glow across the space, he prompts how our perception of works of art is always affected by the context we are in.
Showing in the context of Tate, a public gallery with an extensive international collection, has given Zobernig the opportunity to curate a selection of major international works from his own perspective — rejecting institutional themes or established historic chronologies. His display of sculpture across the upper and lower terraces of the gallery favours no particular artist or necessarily celebrates any one artistic idea; his choice initially associates common characteristics of the works — form and formlessness, readymade and handmade, figurative and abstract.
Prompting questions about how we may judge a work of art or put our faith in its authenticity, he highlights certain works in the Tate Collection which he considers to ‘stand for’ an artistic idea. Throughout his practice Zobernig continually asks about what is real and what is represented in the art world. His inclusion here of various replicas or multiples from the collection such as Duchamp’s 1964 replica of Fountain 1917; the posthumous cast of Degas’s Dancer Putting on her Stocking c.1900; Antoine Pevsner’s Maquette of a Monument Symbolising the Liberation of the Spirit 1952; even Barbara Hepworth’s aluminium trial for Forms in Movement (Pavan) 1956 (the final bronze resides in Hepworth’s garden), addresses how models or facsimiles may become imbued with the aura or importance of the original.
Zobernig’s golden chairs, typical of the modern designer furniture found in contemporary art galleries, are scattered between the plinths. Further enhancing the theatrical atmosphere of this space, they oscillate between sculpture and functional design but also hint at the presence or absence of an expectant audience.