Object lesson

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Although it’s arguably one of Prince’s lesser known hits, the exhibit that opened Jan. 10 at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, brings to mind, “Thieves in the Temple,” if no other reason than the resemblance to the exhibit’s name, “Leopards in the Temple.”

But the name of the group exhibit, which runs through March 30, actually refers to a parable by Franz Kafka, according to the materials introducing the exhibit: “Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally, it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony.”

So, you’re thinking, what does this actually, um, mean?

According to curator Fionn Meade, the show represents a re-engagement with form, but done in unexpected ways. Meade had observed work by many of the show’s artists at shows in Europe, including Parisian artist Latifa Echakhch’s “Erratum,” which features shards of brightly colored broken glass that are scattered before a stark white wall that greets visitors upon entering the exhibit. The usage of quotidian objects such as Moroccan drinking glasses that reflect her heritage in an unexpected way is reminiscent of artists Richard Serra and Barry Le Va, said Meade.

For “Leopards in the Temple,” which occupies two floors of the stark, industrial gallery, Meade said he “wanted to use the space to create a subtle, poetic tone.”

The show is an eclectic amalgam of works that run that gamut from Aleana Egan’s “Marshalling Them,” a sculpture loosely resembling triangles hinged together and suspended from the ceiling, constructed from paper, metal, fishing wire and pop rivets — which represents the interplay of positive and negative space, as evidenced by its positioning in front of an exposed brick wall — to Patrick Hill’s mixed media paintings, including “Abstract Hot I,” and “Abstract Hot II,” studies in geometry run amok using concrete, dye, acrylic paint, wood and staples on canvas.

Then there’s Nina Canell’s “Perpetuum Mobile (1800Kg),” an installation comprised of a pile of concrete blocks resembling sacks of flour, accompanied by a metal basin emitting dry ice, and Lothar Baumgarten’s “Haida Metamorpho­sis,” a C-Print photo on which two masks are set against a rich crimson background.

The exhibit makes good usage of the basement level of the space, where visitors view slide projections tucked away inside cave-like structures and patches of long, barren hallways are illuminated to spotlight a cluster of pipes. Also on display on the basement level are a pair of deceptively simple yet beautiful black and white photographs by Kathrin Sontag, “An/Aus,” which show the same bedroom, one in full-view, the other completely darkened, save for the glow of an orb-like light.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the SculptureCenter will present the “Leopards in the Temple” film series at Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Avenue in Manhattan, which includes two screenings. The first, “Silver and Salt,” was held Monday, Jan. 18, and “Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva,” is scheduled for Monday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. More information is available at

If You Go

Leopards in the Temple

When: Jan. 1-March 30, Thursday - Monday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Where: SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves St, Long Island City

Cost: $5 suggested donation

Contact: 361-1750

Web site:

Updated 5:44 pm, October 10, 2011
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