BY Lars Bang Larsen in Reviews | 03 MAR 98

Explosive fireworks are prohibited in Denmark, and around New Year we used to make our own from rockets and catherine wheels. At some point, a pyrotechnical madness would set in and exacerbate the need for bigger explosions. Smuggling bangers from the supermarkets by the German border was no option. Any official product, even German, was no longer powerful enough. The old trick of wrapping a matchbox filled with gunpowder in tape and packthread was also insufficient: we wanted bombs that could rock the whole neighbourhood. The ultimate product of our frustrated creativity ­ containing enough powder to wake the dead and have us join them ­ was set off with great apprehension. Equipped with a primitive remote control, it was a technological marvel that blasted a concrete drain pipe to smithereens and made us deaf for hours. We felt very pleased with ourselves.

In Al Taylor's exhibition 'Full Gospel Neckless', which looks like a sculptural version of The Anarchist Cookbook, one of the works is a 'bomb' made of wire and three pieces of black plastic pipe. It is very immediate, but you are not quite sure what 'meaning' you can draw out of it. The same goes for the rest of the sculptures, also improvisations made of different types of industrial pipe.

Every sculpture tells a story, as does the title's reference to gospel singing and the black South African method of executing traitors of the Apartheid resistance movement by placing a burning car tyre around their necks. A few are staged as trashy versions of props for the rich: Dog Walk(1997), for instance, consists of Chihuahua, Labrador and Doberman each made out of pipes and equipped with a wire dog leash. Here, the metaphor of the necklace extends to posh ladies' dragging their dogs around Central Park in sparkling collars. In one corner stands a magnified caricature of a necklace in three parts. In some places, it is painted with white stripes recalling Mexican burn-out competitions, where tyre treads are marked with white paint that is burned off in the race.

Drawings are shown along with the sculptures, as commentaries or improvisations on them, but perhaps the show as a whole would have been more insistent had they not been present, putting more emphasis on the sculptures' quotidian realism. But since the artist refused to allow any written information about the show to be made available, the drawings serve as explanations of the somewhat speculative aesthetics of waste.

Taylor's sculptures are placed in the same terrain as those days of evil boredom that can make teenagers indulge in hobbies like bomb-making or tearing along a burn-out in their cars. They also recall the hateful and persistent history of white oppression, and the way in which slaves were introduced to the American continent: in necklaces. They are black, futile, parodic and brilliant, very funny and completely unsaleable. Perhaps their real nihilism is the way they imply that nothing is worth fighting for. You get the feeling, though, that this isn't an entirely bad thing.

SHARE THIS