Vanessa German, Fire Extinguisher: Figure to Quell the Rage of Remembering Things you did not remember in the First Place, 2011. Found objects and mixed media, 27 x 9 x 10 in.

Vanessa German

New York

Pavel Zoubok Gallery

Vanessa German paints over old, white-skinned dolls with black pigment and tar, delving into identity, race, and racism (as in the use of the term “tar baby” to refer to someone who is very dark skinned). Her figures have wide-open eyes and fleshy lips—attributes that feed further stereotypes—and come buried under clusters of worn and damaged objects such as sockets, jewelry, spark plugs, Jim Beam whiskey stirrers, cowrie shells, nuts and bolts, hair, nails, keys, and small flasks. Arman showed us how one object, however banal, could achieve increased visual effect through repetition within the same composition. This idea was not entirely new; it turns up in diverse cultures, from the colonnade wrapped around the Parthenon to the African warrior statuette whose chest is pierced on all sides by rusty nails of unequal size and design…see the entire review in the print version of July/August’s Sculpture magazine.