Claudette Gacuti at STARS - Artforum International

Entering “December,” Claudette Gacuti’s exhibition here, one immediately encounters what looks like the remnants of an archeological dig, carefully arranged on a kind of geological fold topped by sumptuous black cloth. The objects look like gigantic sewing needles, laid out as though they are ready for use.

The works in this show are made from fragments of older sculptures, which have been reformulated into mending tools that, by definition, unite distinct forms into an expressible whole. Their ruptures, however, provide the conditions for the works’ existence. See, for instance, the crystalline ur-form Braced Needle (Seam), 2022, comprising mounds of layered and unfired clay that have been stitched together. Parts have been tinted light blue, as if swaths of cloudy sky were one of the work’s elements. Indeed, while the object’s history is visible through its facture, Gacuti has made something entirely new, connected to, yet not wholly sutured to, its past.

Elsewhere, the point of Sheathed Needle (Fold), 2022, has been dulled. One wonders if this is due to prodigious use, or even neglect—a thing that’s been made to look eroded by the ruthless passage of time? And the wornness of Needle in Two Parts, 2022, explicitly highlights damage; once again, the work’s “brokenness” is its most powerful feature, both materially and conceptually. Arrival, 2023, a wall-mounted triptych, takes us takes us off the ground and into the air. Gauzy lengths of fabric hung from a wooden beam function as curtains over painterly views of clouds, as though one is looking at sky from a suite of airplane windows. The fine curtain material, with visible stitches throughout, mediates between different realms: the flat and three-dimensional, the material and immaterial. Gacuti’s sense of “mending” in this show is deeply metaphysical and brings together so many disparate parts into a compelling whole.