BY Adrian Searle in Reviews | 04 SEP 92
Featured in
Issue 6

Marcus Taylor

BY Adrian Searle in Reviews | 04 SEP 92

Marcus Taylor's sculptures are often derived from the forms of commercial catering freezers, domestic fridges and hi-fi stacking units. They're built lifesized in thick, clear acrylic sheet, sanded to a matt, frosty translucence. This is cool art, however much you turn up the thermostat - but his work is not without poetry or wit. If Minimalism attempted a kind of zero-degree art, these plunge the temperature down even further, as chilled-out hybrids between the mundane and blue-chip Modernist aesthetics. There's nothing new in this. Curiously enough, Eric Bainbridge also used the form of the top-loading freezer recently - but covered his replica in wrong-way out fun fur, an opaque thermal jacket that kept the cold in.

Back in early June, Jay Jopling, whose portfolio includes Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn, had a number of Taylor's sculptures installed in a vast and decrepit factory space in Clerkenwell, to almost universal acclaim. A grim, disused factory entrance and a narrow staircase led to a meticulously swept acre or two of stained and pitted concrete floor, lit only by the light slanting in through high, unwashed windows. Taylor's sculptures sat it out in pristine elegance in this vast stripped-down space for a month or so, the startling cleanliness and hygiene of the work dramatically complemented by its surroundings.

In one half of the naturally divided space the sculptures clustered together between the pillars, in family groups, ordtood alone beneath the windows, like people who arrive at a drinks party too early and without their friends. Two much larger works occupied the second space. A vast crate containing an inner tube - both of the same materials as before - and a less successful mirrored glass and steel work which before all else reminded one of a Dan Graham pavilion.

Taylor's White Goods retain the standardised sizes and generic features of their real counterparts, even though he's not above recombining elements or working with abstracted versions of actual things. This playfulness does nothing, however, to undermine the apparent rigour and consistency of what he does; Taylor's work looks serious. What had once been the proud plane of a fridge door, or the shallow runnel between the door and the recessed base of the fridge chassis (nip into your kitchen now, and check the details), or the fingerspace and inset seal between the body of a freezer and its lid, are turned into discrete formal interruptions of the basic form of the cube. Interior features - a fridge's freezer compartment, or the removable trough for vegetables under the shelves, are also re-designated as pure spatial modelling of the interior. Sometimes, though, this is visible only as a milky void. What had once been practical, from a manufacturing or use oint of view, has become a pleasurable, and elusive, formal arrangement.

The phrase 'installation art' has always seemed faintly ludicrous. The new Philosophy Chair is 'installed' at Oxford, and lots of things can be ordered on credit which are then installed in your own home, with nothing to pay until 1997. The guys who do the installing (and there might well be a philosophy don amongst them) are only artists in the sense of piss-artists or con-artists, and they're happy to leave your little haven of domesticity fully installed with double glazing that hermetically seals all the windows, a central heating system with acute appendicitis and a fitted kitchen that doesn't fit. And you have to put up with a lot of laddish banter while the work is in progress; that's installation.

Installation here means display, yet the vacated printing works and the work itself shared a particular kind of emptiness. Taylor's work has been 'installed' as the display of space within space within space. The natural light catches dust motes floating in the air, highlights a column and casts the prison break shadows of the window frames on the floor. The light also penetrates the sculptures, dissolving their features, catching on corners, refracting, reflecting and seemingly condensing within the objects - inducing a sensation of visual hyperacuity and at the same time feelings of blurring, dissolving and and merging. The huge room, and the objects in it, are ventilated by light. You begin to wonder about your own solidity.

Whether this is part of Taylor's intention is uncertain. Maybe the site was chosen for more mundane reasons - maybe the space is only big, the sculptures only translucent. Maybe the abraded skin of these objects is only a decorative patina, a stylistic signature. The effect is still an amazing serendipity. The available colour transparencies of the work more often than not set it against darkened backgrounds, intensifying the aura, the inner light, yet isolating it, lessening its intrigue. That said, Taylor's work still has enormous appeal, even if, in the end, it's only normal art, to be installed by curators, not cowboys.