Polly Apfelbaum’s new installation spreads dyed bits of velvet over the floor of D’Amelio Gallery in Chelsea in New York. We ought to be able to dismiss Apfelbaum’s works as old-fashioned, self-absorbed abstraction, fiddling about with color and form – that’s the world she came out of in the late 1970s. But there’s something about her trademark shift to the floor, and the contingency of her scattered parts, and her links to the history of textiles and crazy-quilting and all kinds of women’s work, that guarantees the continuing freshness of her installations. Somehow, ending up on the floor surrenders the ponderous authority that still clings to pictures on walls – maybe because there’s a sense that we could mess the work up if we wanted to, and yet choose to leave it unstepped on.
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