Pioneer Works presents the first large-scale exhibition of work by Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL) in the United States. The centerpiece of The CryptoFuturist and The New Tribal Labyrinth is Blast Furnace (2013), a 40-foot-tall industrial structure resembling a steel maze of pipes, conveyor elevators, staircases and mezzanines. At the center of the work is a fictional narrative wherein a “New Tribe” of metal workers, inspired by a desire to the return to industry, take residence in the structure. This sets the stage for the synthesis of man and machine and refers to the replacement of heavy industry by an immaterial, information-led economy.
In the shadow of Blast Furnace are sculptures from AVL’s ongoing series, “Crypto-Futurism,” which draws parallels between the Italian Futurists’ nationalist glorification of new technologies, cities, and war during the 20th century, and emerging fascist tendencies today. The most prominent of these works, Pendulum Press (2019), an oversized mechanical clock powered by a swinging pendulum, crushes objects—in some instances, the artist’s own work—at a pre-destined time daily. With these machines, AVL breaks with the past and ushers in a metaphorical new “beginning of everything” by deconstructing sustainability with techno-modernist speed, and playing a game of nostalgia for bygone political theorems.
About the Artist
Sculptor, painter and visionary Joep Van Lieshout (b. 1963 in Ravenstein, Germany) was accepted to the Rotterdam Academy of the Arts at sixteen years of age, and has been working solely under the name Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL) since the studio’s founding in 1995. AVL has established a multidisciplinary practice that produces works on the borders between art, design, and architecture. Notable projects have included AVL-Ville (2001), an independent state in Rotterdam with its own constitution and currency; A-Portable (2001), a floating, reproductive health clinic offering abortions in international waters; Insect Farm (2012), an insect farm which addresses future food needs; and Domestikator (2015), a lodging-sculpture depicting a man and animal procreating, which was censored by the Louvre and subsequently displayed at the Centre Pompidou. Work by AVL has been exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide, and is in the collections of MoMA, New York; FNAC, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Prada Foundation, Milan; and Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich.
This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.