Conceptual sculpture extraordinaire David Lamelas occupies Broad

‘Fiction of a Production’ reconstructs his classic works


As if the brilliantly imaginative design of the Broad Art Museum by Zaha Hadid wasn’t enough, David Lamelas, the Argentinian master of conceptual sculptures, is taking over the Broad this summer with the exhibit “Fiction of a Production.”

“I think it’s a really good introduction to Lamelas. It presents a lot of his early work that was produced in Argentina during the mid-60s,” said Broad Art Museum associate curator Carla Acevedo-Yates.

“It also presents his first film from 1969, and his return to architecture with a major architectural intervention in our building.”

It’s a different kind of exhibit. The Broad won’t just be the host, but in many ways a fresh conduit for Lamelas’ daring experimentation. Lamelas is world renowned for his ability to challenge the conventions of architecture with sculptures that take on lives of their own, so it’s a rare privilege that he’s leaving his mark in East Lansing.

The work of Lamelas is a strange animal. When it’s exhibited, the gallery is never displaying the original construct. The gallery is instead given instructions to recreate the sculptures. For Lamelas, this cyclical process makes his creations truly come to life — they are living, breathing and always adapting to a new space.

“A lot of his works are ideas that adapt to different spaces. Some of his ideas, such as ‘Corner Piece,’ are not really physical sculptures in the sense that you can transport it,” Acevedo-Yates explained. “Because it exists as a set of instructions, every time you want to show it you have to construct it and adapt it to a site.”

“Fiction of a Production” was designed under Lamelas’ own supervision. He visited the museum and was given free reign to reimagine his visions in a way that will play off its seemingly extraterrestrial architecture.

“It was fantastic, the process was fascinating. As soon as he saw those iconic windows that face Grand River, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. It was very natural and organic.” Acevedo-Yates said.

The result is the largest incarnation of “Falling Wall,” one of Lamelas’ most iconic pieces, to ever be constructed and displayed.

Lamelas’ brilliance earned him recognition during the mid-60’s flourish of avant-garde art in Buenos Aires. He was heavily involved in the exhibitions at the Instituto Torcuato di Tella, a Buenos Aires art gallery where many contemporary Argentinean artists coalesced. At the institute they experimented with bold new techniques in sculpture, film and painting.

Lamelas’ willingness to smash the preconceived notions of what makes a sculpture quickly earned him the reputation of a trailblazer. The success of his work saw him emerge as an important figure in the Bueno Aires art scene, despite being fresh out of high school.

“Part of that experimentation had to do with materials. What kind of materials could you use for a sculpture that aren’t traditional? For example, how do you make a sculpture out of light?” Acevedo-Yates said.

Those are the sort of abstract questions Lamelas was out to solve through his work. And solve them he did. But rather than explaining it through written word, it’s recommended you find the answer by actually visiting the exhibit.

After all, the Broad secured two of his light sculptures for display.

Lamelas will make an appearance at the Broad Friday, and will lead a rendition of his performance art piece “Time.”

“He was very inspired by the building, at one point he said, ‘Thank you, Zaha Hadid.’ In a sense a lot of the works are a conversation between the architecture and Lamelas.”

Opening Reception: David Lamelas’

“Fiction of a Production” Friday, June 1 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free Broad Art Museum 547 E. Circle Drive, East Lansing (517) 884-4800


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