By Laura Peach, October 1st, 2010
A humming bird is stuck to the wall, midflight. A turtle, spun around on its shell, futilely paddles scaly legs. A garden snake hangs limply from a nail, coiled as a dried discarded rope. An overturned octopus, tentacles casting snake-like shadows, balances with a majestic eerieness surrounded by these smaller simpler beings. This is Mark Calderon’s sculptural menagerie of little lead animals now on view at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery.
The collection of expertly executed animals reminds us that life is intricate, delicate and fragile. But the choice of material that nearly all are cast from—lead, a toxic, blackish substance—simultaneously says that death is in life, and it is a dark, heavy, and inescapable thing. The plight of these small creatures, contorted, trapped, twisted, stuck in positions they cannot escape from, is arresting. You want to hold them in your hand, to set them rightside up, to release them so that they can crawl, slither, swim or fly away. Yet cradling these creatures would leave you only with the dead weight of lead.
The exhibit is on view through October 19 at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery; 520 W. 27th Street.