The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic, 1938, is the theosophical doctrine of Israel Regardie, the former secretary and friend of occultist Aleister Crowley. This eponymous text occupies the central shelf in Bove’s sculpture ‘Easter Everywhere’ 2007, a bookshelf which also contains Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double, and M.C. Escher’s ‘Magic Mirror’ as well as diminutive concrete blocks, peacock feathers, photographs, and other ephemera.
This exhibition, The Middle Pillar, is an explicit statement of Bove’s investigation of the philosophies and aesthetics of the 1960s and early 1970s, lthough it may be contended that those dates stretch to the present day, incorporating as it does, the recent vogue for exploring art history and making art out of art itself. Another of Bove’s bookshelves, ‘Innerspace Bullshit’, 2007 contains more books and ephemera, including Marfa rock, and Gregory Battock’s Idea Art.
These works fulfil Bove’s claim, referencing art directly in content and in form. They are evocative of Sol le Witt’s 1980 autobiography project, a catalogue of everything he owned, including a photograph of his own bookshelf entitled ‘Self Portrait’. What we have read, and what we have experienced is unique and revealing of oneself, and here this idea has been simultaneously expanded and contracted by Bove to include just the experience of art.
Regardie’s middle pillar is a person in meditative contemplation, and Bove offers us an alloy of mind and magic that is the subject of that contemplation. The diversity of her sculptural materials, from industrial concrete to natural forms, such as the hanging the driftwood of ‘Untitled’, 2007, and ‘Untitled’, 2007, beside an eight inch high concrete pedestal upon which 4000 peacock feathers have been arranged, suggests the emphasis on purity of materials in conceptual sculpture. This is further explored in the five untitled cast concrete cuboid sculptures that recall a minimalist concern with pure form.
Bove has included the work of several other artists in her exhibition; the installation, ‘Setting for A. Pomodoro’, 2005, is based around an actual ‘Arnaldo Pomodoro Sfera con Sfera’ from 1963, in which smaller concrete cuboids, driftwood, and metal plinths accompany the small bronze sphere. Bruce Conner’s mixed media collage ‘September 13, 1959’ appears beside the peacock-feathered plinth in the north gallery, while Philip Smith’s recordings of water are audible in the corridor between galleries.
Six paintings by Wilfred Lang, an artist whose work has not been embraced by posterity, dominate the side gallery; representing a more thorough reflection of art history. Perhaps her choice of books, as well as the particular editions with their dated covers, intends to suggest the ephemeral nature of taste.
In ‘The Night Sky Over New York, October 21, 2007, 9 pm’, 2007, 473 bronze rods articulate a particular horoscope that will occur over New York during the period of the exhibition. This depiction of a unique moment illusrates Bove’s pervasive sense of equilibrium, all of which hinges on a singular axis; the middle pillar, the viewer, around whom art ebbs, flows, and repeats.
Victoria Miguel is a writer based in New York