The Lulennial II: A Low-Hanging Fruit curated by Andrew Berardini and Chris Sharp
Lulu, Mexico City
February 6 - April 1, 2018
Review by Elliott Burns
Defying, on two fronts, the conventional biennial/triennial wisdom of size and seriousness, the Lulennial returns for its second edition with A Low-Hanging Fruit. Fit into Mexico City’s smallest gallery, just 21 square metres, curators Chris Sharp and Andrew Berardini have compacted a star studded show of 22 international artists which tackles the seemingly humorous, but actually deeply layered, subject of fruit.
Carefully walking through the gallery’s two packed rooms is a visual feast, with brightly coloured paintings, sculptures and installations oscillating between the various connotations of the show’s theme. A Low-Hanging Fruit constantly shifts from the sexual - Jef Gey’s tarted up lingerie wearing fruit photography, Luis Miguel Bendaña’s powder-coated cast bronze ‘Cherry’ (2015), adult, childish, erotic, playful and Nevine Mahmoud’s fleshy pink marble peach, to the political - Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa’s ‘Penca’ (2017), a polystyrene and fibreglass banana stem, a symbol of American interventionist policy and Maja Vukoje’s painting, ‘Lime’ (2017), made on a stretched burlap sack, a trade by-product used to transport goods from the global south to the global north.
There are notes of philosophy, in particular, in Colombian artist Gabriel Sierra’s ‘Untitled (Support for mathematics lessons)’ (2007), made of six minimal white 31cm rulers interlocked to form a three-tiered grid, into which an orange, bananas, limes, apples, kiwis, starfruit, figs and a pomegranate are made to fit. More than a sculptural arrangement or piece of design, it confronts Enlightenment thinking which sought to impose a logic for living onto the natural world, a legacy of thought we are still burdened by.
And of course, inevitably, in between it all, brilliant moments of humour and light-heartedness interrupt the heavier themes, but aren’t without their own nuances. Panamanian duo, Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker’s joyous video ‘Tropical Zincphony’ (2013), follows a mango rolling down a seemingly endless interconnected system of corrugated zinc roofs, crossing different textures and colours as it goes, humorous, yet tinged with the reality of a societal portrait. Or a painting from the ‘This is how it happened’ series by Amelia von Wulffen, which takes anthropomorphised foods from children’s books and recasts them in more adult situations, in this case, brooding by the beach. And Alison Katz’s set of multi-functional ‘Arsi-Versi (Nose-Ass-Pear)s’ (2014-ongoing) which are funny and a bit unsettling.
With space per artist at a premium, every opportunity has been exploited; built into the gallery façade is a storefront diorama by Turkish artist Derya Akay, with fallen fruit having strayed from their cart. The gutter trim around a raised floor accommodates a kitty litter, papaya seed and dog’s tug toy installation by Nancy Lupo, in an alleyway Nina Beier has ordered a weekly delivery of fresh fruit to be dumped and even the world’s smallest toilet has been re-purposed for Meriem Bennani’s ‘iButt’ (2015), where an animated Apple logo dancing to Iraqi folkloric pop on an iPhone screen.
In fact, so densely filled is the Lulennial that Adriana Lara’s Installation ‘(Banana Peel)’ (2008), which literally consists of a banana peel on the floor, becomes a dangerous proposition. Or in the case of Erika Verzutti’s ‘Grandmother’ (2017), a concrete cast of a fruit arrangement, one must carefully sidestep round the sculpture’s pillar to avoid knocking it to the floor - a note of danger permeates the show.
Sampled from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Turkey and the US, A Low-Hanging Fruit proves that fruit aren’t solely the concern of Latin American artists, making a truly cosmopolitan fruit-cocktail of an exhibition. Whilst in the press release, curators Sharp and Berardini are modestly deferential on their ability to do their subject justice, the truth is that they’ve successfully conveyed the various reasons that fruit is of pivotal importance to the arts.