by Sara Christoph
The sculptures of Chris Larson speak of destruction at a pitch that refuses all euphemisms. They are barren and fragile; vacuous vitrines of preserved remnants of violence. Like cages on stilts, each sculpture holds a bed of plaster that chips and cracks within its frame—manmade scorched earth. Tiny matchsticks are broken and carefully stacked; small piles of dust are swept and gathered. Despite being open to the surrounding air, the inner components of the sculpture seem to exist in a vacuum, as if couched in invisible formaldehyde. Giacometti is important—The Palace at 4 a.m. a reference both visually and metaphysically—as is Kafka’s aura of nihilism from In the Penal Colony, and Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim of Slaughterhouse Five.
Yet Larson’s abstractions keep us at a distance. By refusing any direct representation of violence, he can allude to every conflict at once. It is an elegant subversion of specificity; one feels as if gazing upon a miniaturized archeology of our world’s wars—past, present, and future.