John Giglio’s Performance-Sculpture rocks Carbon 14

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John Giglio
Originally uploaded by sokref1.

Over the course of a decades-spanning career, sculptor and performance artist John Giglio has created works that seem to be exploded surreal 3-D cartoons whose mission is to demonstrate the weird and wonderful connections between body, buildings and psychic space. Di Chirico is another reference in works that are playful and ominous with bodies wrapped or masked, buildings turned into bubbles and limbs stretched to impossible extremes. Documentation of Giglio’s works from the 1990s to the present is up now at Carbon 14, and I highly recommend a visit. C-14, the experimental space dedicated to expanding the conversation about what art is and why you want to hang out with it, is a great new member of the community. And Katarina and Andrew have such passion for Giglio that they’ve done something extraordinary themselves: They’ve commissioned the Illinois-based artist, whose Blowhome project is now at the Aldrich Museum to do a new work for them, a gallery piece that will also be documented in a book. I love it when a gallery stretches for something it believes in.

For a private gallery to throw its bread on this experimental water is pretty risky. But the Carbon 14ers are risk takers. Libby and I met them in the 1980s when they were just kids and were already experimenting with a gallery/cafe concept –called Carbon 14 — in the space they’re still in today. (The space closed for a while and opened again with a bang in 2004.)


Giglio’s drawings and the performance videos are truly great. See some photos at my flickr set. The drawings, which Libby will tell you more about, are wonderful working drawings with words and sketches about various projects, realized and not. And the performances, documented in videos that play in the gallery, remind me slightly of Brian Sanders’ experimental dance works only less dance-like and more imbued with thoughts about the human/built environment (Sanders is about people to people relationships). The pieces are simple, elegant and unique. Giglio’s recent works (like what’s at the Aldrich) seem to be less performance-driven and more about buildings as psychic spaces. And we don’t know what the Carbon 14 piece will be like, but I’m eagerly awaiting.

Artists like Giglio, whose work is about big issues of existence–the body and the psychological underpinnings of humans and their communities– are working in a tradition that transcends “isms.” Think Leonardo, think Michaelangelo, think Blake and in our day, Cindy Sherman, and in our town, Tristin Lowe.

We’ll get back to you with more information about the upcoming new work when Carbon 14 is ready to announce more. Meanwhile, the current show of documentary material is up to June 30.