Carol Bove Untitled 2009

Carol Bove
Untitled 2009
Photo: Thomas Müller
© Courtesy Carol Bove and Dennis Kimmerich

New York based artist Carol Bove (b.1972) uses objects, artifacts and images from the past to create elegant, enigmatic works that often take the form of sculptural assemblages. At first her references seem quite varied, but Bove is continually fascinated by the way the forms and ideas of art and culture can re-surface in different places and at different times. She has recently made work inspired by both the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a chandelier designed for the Four Seasons restaurant, again in New York, by the American architect Philip Johnson.

For this display, Bove has responded to the particular architecture and atmosphere of Tate St Ives. It features materials and motifs she has used before, including driftwood and other detritus scavenged from a beach near her home in Brooklyn: nets made from fine silver chain; a new shelf-work containing a poem by the sixties counter-cultural writer Michael McClure; a late, erotic drawing by Picasso; and fragments of coral, peacock feathers and book pages. Displayed in a gallery showcase, these found, washed-up, and rescued curios attain the status of precious objects. Bove, like Hepworth, plays with ideas of near and far, small and monumental. Her small objects relate both to Hepworth’s sculpture on the floor below and the expansive view from the gallery across Porthmeor beach.

She sometimes talks about her installations in terms of stage design or sets. They also relate strongly to Bove’s interest in Surrealism and the visual puzzles, games or tricks which artists like Salvador Dalí and Giorgio De Chirico would often employ to disrupt our perception of reality: what is real or unreal, model or life-size, authentic or fake?

Bove can be seen as a kind of cultural archaeologist, rescuing objects and ideas and examining their survival in the contemporary world. If objects are imprinted with the particularities of the environment in which they were produced, how do they operate in our time? Can they only appear to us now as remnants, recollections or souvenirs? Are they reappearing now or did they never go away?