Hand-hewn and striated with the wobbling and wavering lines of wood grain, Haim Steinbach’s Display #28 (rustic wall with music box and candle snuffer) (1991), the centerpiece of “Haim Steinbach: 1991-1993”—on view now at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery—slices across the white box of the space like a strange ship. The windows spread across its façade are functional—through, when opened, all they reveal is the structure’s obstructed wooden insides.
In one niche, a pair of lips spew a mixture of music and voices. “Blabbermouth,” as the object is called—in reality, an AM/FM radio from the 1980s—was discovered by Steinbach himself on the ledge of a farmhouse in 1991. Its presence in Display #28… also reflects the processes that have driven Steinbach’s practice over the decades: Arguably among the foremost purveyors of found and readymade objects since Marcel Duchamp, Steinbach culls everyday objects and experience to make deadpan artworks as associative as they are withholding.
Nearby, the installation Untitled (table with towels, bone, pacifier) (1993) [pictured] displays neatly stacked towels on a table. What results is a visual presentation evocative of a lowbrow retail store, even as it appears in that of the exalted art gallery space surrounding it.
Haim Steinbach, Untitled (Table With Towels, Bone, Pacifier), 1993. Medium density fiberboard table with glass top, cotton towels, plastic and rubber pacifier, rawhide bone, 35 1/2 x 86 1/2 x 45 1/4 inches.