Mark Handforth

September 10, 2002 - December 9, 2002


In his sculptural installations, Mark Handforth transplants familiar objects into unfamiliar surroundings in order to reveal something new about the ways in which these things exist and function in our everyday lives. Born in Hong Kong, raised in England, and based in Miami since 1992, Handforth revels in the skewed perspectives and unintended consequences that result from cultural migration and displacement. In the Hammer's Vault Gallery, Handforth will present several recent sculptures, including a street lamppost that appears to have been stretched out and folded in upon itself, and a fluorescent light sculpture.

Hammer Projects are curated by James Elaine.

Mark Handforth: Love, Reign O'er Me

By Tim Griffin


One way to get a handle on Mark Handforth's approach to sculpture is to consider a scene from cinema: the final sequences of the Who's Quadrophenia (1979), in which the headlights of a single Vespa drift alone through the fog high on the seaside cliffs near Brighton. It's a romantic ending that takes place in a relentlessly modern setting, with the movie's teenage lead apparently driving toward a suicide in a landscape that, for all its sublime expanses, cannot be separated from its utilitarian function as a resort. The film depicts a world that, regardless of its refuge beauty, is inextricably tied to life lived on city streets.


The scene directly inspired one of Handforth's works for a recent exhibition in Turin, Italy. Outfitting a Vespa with water nozzles, he placed the vehicle in a courtyard behind his art gallery. To anyone who looked at the sculpture, the bike seemed enshrouded in a light cloud set in nature; those who walked closer felt a cool film of water falling upon their skin. This ultra-sculptural sensibility extended to optics, as the lit headlights created rainbow spectrums in the surrounding mist. Yet the lightly sublime experience was still embedded in the immediate context. Handforth picked a Vespa because the streets of the working-class neighborhood outside were lined with the vehicles; visitors to the gallery may very well have driven one to his exhibition. And so an out-of-this-world encounter is only a step away from the ordinary. Handforth's sculpture is romantic but never quite leaves reality behind, laden as it is with sociological content. More

Tim Griffin is associate editor of Artforum , and formerly art editor of Time Out New York . His book of cultural essays, Contamination , is available from Gabrius; in Stereo , a book of poems, is available from Shark Press.


Hammer Projects are made possible, in part, with support from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Los Angeles County Art Commission.

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