f you keep up on art news at all, you probably saw headlines a couple weeks ago declaring that New York’s Guggenheim Museum would be installing a solid gold toilet. The sculpture, made by Maurizio Cattelan, “offers a wink to the excesses of the art market” while also embodying “the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity,” according to the museum’s PR team. This endorsement, or defense, of Cattelan’s aureate latrine felt a little too simple. To me, the work felt more like a willing participant in capitalist avarice than a critique of it.
If Cattelan took something of artificial wonder and alchemized it into a banality, the artists in the Contemporary Arts Center’s latest exhibit do the opposite. In Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered, nine artists deconstruct and reanimate clothing, blankets, rugs and other fabrics into emblems of political and personal expression. Whereas Cattelan recodes society’s cliché symbol of success (gold) into something everyone uses (a toilet), these artists take humble possessions we all own (clothing, textiles) and weave them into art.