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Posted at 2:45 AM ET, 08/22/2008

It's Alive!

By Stephanie Merry

A brief moment of repose for one participant in "Living Sculpture" at Project 4. (Courtesy of J.J. McCracken and Project 4)

It's always a little disconcerting to walk by a storefront with a living model on the other side of the glass. There's that moment of disbelief: is that a real person? And then the subsequent hilarity of it all -- the model is being paid to sit still and imitate a mannequin.

I expected to have the same reaction to "Living Sculpture," J.J. McCracken's exhibition at Project 4, but instead I found myself mesmerized. The difference was probably because the "sculptures" were in constant motion. Each of the five women in the exhibition was standing on a large globe, clothed in a brown robe and covered in clay, like some nymph who had ascended from the earth. In the first work, which was outside and drew quite the crowd from people on their way to the Ben's Chili Bowl celebration, a woman slowly pushed beads on an abacus. Inside, the small but crowded gallery had reached Bikram yoga temperatures on the upper level, but I couldn't tear myself away from one sculpture. A woman sat on her sphere, the clay oozing out between her toes, playing the cello and then stepping on a small pedal that played her music back in reverse. I'm not sure what was more shocking, the woman's ability to balance up there while playing an instrument, or the fact that her cello was covered in clay. Across the room, another woman made balls out of clay and then dropped them on the ground -- splat! -- into a muddy puddle.

Back downstairs, two women created one work. They stood across the room from one another with a giant scarf between them. As one continuously knit, extending the scarf, another slowly and deliberately unraveled the other end of it. There was some concern about whether one of the women was getting a little overheated up on her globe as she began to shake. And this, to me, only added to her Penelope-like mystique as she silently suffered for the art.

The remnants of the exhibit (scarf, cello, spheres and abacus) will be on display over the next few weeks, but there will be another live performance on August 29 at 8 p.m. Did you check out "Living Sculpture" last night? Let us know in the comments what your favorite was.

-Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | August 22, 2008; 2:45 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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Comments

This looks so rad! Sorry we missed it... When is this exhibition going on the road and coming to LA?

Posted by: Gangi Squadron | August 23, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

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