I Have Wasted My Life
For Liz Magor, the transformation of commonplace and oft-replaced objects is a hallmark of her practice. “I Have Wasted My Life,’ the artist’s latest show at Andrew Kreps Gallery, likewise sees a worn, paint-splattered duffle coat take center stage. The coat hangs, visibly empty, in the exhibition space, yet its faded, charcoal grey fabric bulges as though wrapped around a human torso. This invisible form embodies a phantom presence: a symbol of what is absent. The garment’s tattered, subdued appearance evokes the simple, casual bearings of a jacket suspended on a hook in a hallway, even as it points to what is missing.
The coat was originally donned by student protestors in the 1960s and ’70s. As such, the style became iconic for its association with growing political and environmental activism. Its ripped pockets, ragged sleeves, and dangling strings all speak to a lifetime of use. By Magor’s hands, however, it becomes a sculptural object, wherein the deliberate placement of paint stains serve to highlight threadbare lining among other damage borne into the material. The pockets also hold two gypsum-cast cookies, through which Magor means to extend to the coat an imagined, alternate timeline. Indeed, that the work’s title is Perennial (2021) is apt, given the cycle of renewal that is at play, wherein this duffle coat, having endured decades, is now made new again—this time, as an artifact.
Liz Magor, Drift, 2021. Silicon rubber, polyester, work- bench, coffee table: 50 1/2 × 71 × 47 inches; lion: 11 × 54 × 24 inches; workbench: 32 1/4 × 52 × 39 1/2 inches. Photo: Dan Bradica