In Forgotten Artifacts at Core Contemporary, Las Vegas artists, through cast-metal sculptures, hypothesize the hopeful landscape of human inexistence.
May 27—July 22, 2022
Core Contemporary, Las Vegas
When a new society looks at the remnants of today, what will they examine? Several Las Vegas artists speculate on the post-self—or post-human—future through the use of cast-metal sculptures in Forgotten Artifacts, which draws on speculative fiction and memoir to build a museum of future fragments.
The Core Contemporary show, organized by artist and educator Ross Takahashi, features four established foundry artists and their students. In this exhibition of small works, the dangerous material of metal becomes delicate, and the artists eschew the monumentality that foundry and bronze bring to mind.
Takahashi’s pieces in this show play with nature and tell a story of post-human discoveries. The artist’s cast-bronze vases borrow shapes from Etruscan pottery yet appear to be built with mud, twigs, and paper. The fragile-looking forms are not made from provisional materials—instead, the unrefined muddy edges look more like an insect dwelling than a cast-bronze object. Takahashi’s work, which evokes what life after humans might look like following a climate catastrophe, sets a strong theme for the exhibition.
Imagining queer futurities, Emily Budd’s combined works invoke orgasmic growth. A trumpet curls out of a jar, and a cornucopia of organic and mechanical shapes explode from the horn in Heart vs Gut. The natural materials grow cancerously and burst forth from the jar, and abstract shapes, which mimic the natural, appear almost like futuristic sex toys, evoking a potential flourishing through new paths of procreation.
Some works tackle the Anthropocene or the artifact in a less straightforward manner. Eric Pawloski’s work is an intimate meditation on human impact on the earth. In a curio cabinet piece, a small and highly detailed human anatomy doll is contrasted with a smooth, naturalistic cactus that grows out of the cabinet. Pawloski’s sculptures feel less like artifacts and more like portents—his use of models and found materials illustrate that we have pushed artifice and simulation past the point of reality. If Pawloski’s dark predictions are to be true, perhaps there will be a time when the only likenesses of humans or plants are those cast in bronze, like the metal saguaros and aloe that populate Vegas medians.
Chris Bauder’s micro monuments, which play on pop sensibilities through the post-apocalyptic, bring an authenticity to consumption and engagement with consumerism that rejects pop-schlock. His works hypothesize the lens of future archeologists or anthropologists—meticulous renderings of consumer products, like a bronze cast Oreo, seem to mock our expectations of our current culture lasting infinitely. With gold foil cross etched into one face, Bauder conjures a mystical potential in the quotidian.
Featured alongside the artists are several of their students who were juried into the show and who present a distinct sensibility around gender, identity, and memory. Jerrica Robbins creates a vanity set using found vintage objects and a cast jewelry box, created in memoriam for a deceased loved one. Others, like Micah Haji-Sheikh, deal with identity through the lens of current events—Gash is an abstract exploration of the impact of religious rhetoric and legislation on the menstruating body.
As humans live in a status apocalypsis, how do we manifest hope for a future which finds and marvels at our remains? Forgotten Artifacts does not have easy answers, but the exhibition is hopeful in its very existence. The proposition of the show, a future in which our residue is discovered, inspires a sense of hope.
A closing reception for Forgotten Artifacts is scheduled to take place July 22, 6-8 pm at Core Contemporary, 900 East Karen Avenue, Suite D222, in Las Vegas, Nevada.