In the opening lines of his book, The Fold, philosopher Gilles Deleuze says that, "the Baroque refers not to an essence but rather to an operative function, to a trait. It endlessly produces folds." The works on view in this show by Elena Berriolo, an Italian-born New York sculptor and installation artist, are thoroughly engaged in arguments of contemporary art, yet they evoke the elaborate Baroque machinations that Deleuze describes. Berriolo presents several wall works and a large, tent-like enclosure attached to the ceiling, which fills the center of the room; all works are made of cloth. A feature of each of these abstractions is a prominent fold or pleat in the material. In a written statement, the artist says that the concave fold defines the feminine being.
The group of works titled "Modular Green" are made of approximately four-feet-tall, narrow wood supports covered in gold and green damask. Hung vertically, the works have a certain anthropomorphic quality, as if they possibly refer to human limbs. The top of one piece leans against the wall and floor like a leg bent at the knee. The large installation piece Empty Body, is a sculpture that doubles as a kind of performance prop. Here, large sheets of canvas hanging from floor to ceiling conceal a swing on which a seated participant can swing back and forth. Like the "swinger" in Fragonard's famous painting, feet poke out from under the cloth. But in Berriolo's work, the swinger presses against a vertical fold of bluish-purple satin. Even when not in motion, the fold becomes the focal point of this dramatic piece.
Elena Berriolo at Mary Barone, 96 Grand, NY NY 10013 (Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 1998).