For his installation at Murray Guy, one of the most creative and substantial galleries in New York, Francis Cape began by studying the benches made by various utopian communities across the United States – everything from the Shakers to the Harmony Society to the Society of Separatists at Zoar. He measured the original pieces, most very old, then remade them in his own woodshop in upstate New York using local poplar lumber, as a way of considering “communalism as a historic and a contemporary alternative to individualism". What we get, at Murray Guy, is a community of communal objects, their differences subsumed in the collective. Interesting, though, how Cape takes the joint efforts of the original makers of his benches and translates them into the lonely world of the artist’s studio, home to the labors and thoughts of an individual genius. It’s also interesting how, by using the same wood and finish for all of his varied benches, Cape seems to evoke the spirit of mass production. (A fascinating book has been published to go with the show.)
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