Ben Jackel, Grandpa’s Knuckle Dusters (bronze), 2014. Bronze. 42 x 70 x 8 in.

Ben Jackel

Los Angeles

L.A. Louver Gallery

Ben Jackel’s works are splinters off the American culture of violence—hyper-real portraits of instruments of power and aggression. Although the objects originate in a concrete world of specific function, they are re-envisioned as luxury objects borrowed from their industrial and martial origins, and repurposed and valorized as sculpture. MoMA’s design collection peels the burden of utility from objects and recontextualizes them as “things of beauty”; Jackel stands this process on its head by obsessively replicating objects with such a heavy associative load that, regardless of their beauty and haute-design quotient, they stay latched to their utilitarian identities. The point of the work is a question: What connotative shift occurs when the functional and the lethal are converted to the decorative? The show’s title, “American Imperium,” references this country’s current state of permanent warfare and lends Jackel’s sculptures a slightly ambiguous political context. …see the entire review in the print version of July/August’s Sculpture magazine.