Joan Cortés: Theorem of Space – 81 Leonard Street

  • Theorem of Space is a site-specific installation by Spanish artist Joan Cortés, and is being shown at 81 Leonard Street from November 4th – November 14th. The choice of gallery space, and the work itself, both form a part of Cortés’ artistic intentions.


    Before I entered the fantastic space of 81 Leonard Street, I could already see the installation from the street; like many passersby that night, I wasn’t expecting to see such a grand installation hanging from the ceiling, like a giant modernist chandelier.


    Once I was inside the gallery itself, I made my way down to the basement level where I was finally able to see the piece from beneath, and so I started to attempt to decipher how Cortés had created this sculpture. Without any information given on what the piece is built from - and still to this point I am not sure if my guess is correct - it looks as though a substantial number of small coffee tables have been hung in a chrysalis-like formation, using only plastic wire to hold them in place.



    As the piece is site-specific, this formation must change wherever it is exhibited. In the short making-of video that was projected in a concrete arch, it shows the piece hanging in a much older building – presumably in his homeland, where he is very well known. In Leonard Street the space is contemporary, and though the walls are designed to hang framed work from, their symmetry and consistency perfectly offsets the seemingly random arrangement of the sculpture that dominates the building.



    Walking around the sculpture, and admiring it from the ground level, the formation takes many different shapes, and it seems that the intention of Cortés’ work comes to life here, as the guide notes state: “[Cortés] explores the individual object into the group, and that of the group into the space, observing how the successive integrations evidently change the perception we had of the first element”. The work, even though stationary in the space, continues to change within the space itself.


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