Exhibition: In the Sewer of Your Body

Lionel Maunz In the Sewer of Your Body February 18 - March 25 2018

A trio of black and white portrait photographs of three people. The person in the center resembles a young child. The people on the left and right appear older.
Press:

Artforum

Bureau is proud to announce Lionel Maunz’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, In the Sewer of Your Body. Maunz conjures the gallery as a field of cruelty and degradation where corporeal depravity and the untenable pain of consciousness collide. Anatomical graphite drawings compliment figures rendered in formidable cast iron, enclosed within steel and glass constructions. These architectural structures are Maunz’s most complex and accomplished to date; conflating confinement with display, his figures are hemmed-in and laid bare as brazenly suffering bodies.

Following Maunz’s 2017 solo, The Discovery of Honey at the Contemporary Austin, this exhibition builds upon the artist’s previous bodies of work indicting and reveling in the coercive structures of the family. Here Maunz scrutinizes the tenets of Calvinism and ideas of anti-natalism, compacting the indignities of corporeal existence with the torment of consciousness. For Maunz, the tenets of Calvinism describe a hatred of the flesh as they outline the unbreakable enslavement of the body to sin, the absence of free-will and the relish of universal damnation. Anti-natalism argues against procreation, describing the pain associated with coming into existence, the torture of awareness and the psychological burden of mortality. As Sophocles’s chorus declared in Oedipus at Colonus, ‘not to be born is, beyond all estimation, best’.

Maunz’s practice mines these ideas through exceptional physical portrayals of depravity. The power of human bondage - over beast and man alike - is exposed through studies of bodies in agony, torture and failure. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a bound and mutilated man, low within the confines of an imposing steel chamber. Maunz captures the rapturous and agonized movement of the violated man, through the unforgiving material of cast iron. Nearby, a decomposing boy lies atop a gleaming mortuary slab flanked by gynecological restraints on his left and at right, an architectural outline of the subterranean lair where Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter and their children. Two works in the exhibition feature renderings of Dürer’s polyhedron from the Melancholia engraving. One, cast in iron, is degrading; its geometric purity melting, beside the Fritzl model; the other drawn in graphite is imprisoned behind a sewer grate. Here we see the polyhedron, a symbol of reason, eroded and corrupted.

In the Sewer of Your Body catalyzes a collapsing of life into beginning and ending, positing a refusal of origin, of birth, and presenting a cruel vision of termination. The exhibition, while horrific in its details entices the viewer to marvel, and consider such captivating conviction: a body of work and a practice so resolutely willed to promote a singular vision and philosophy of ruin.

Lionel Maunz (b. 1976, lives and works in New York NY) received his BFA and MFA degrees from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Solo exhibitions include The Contemporary Austin, TX, 2017; MoMA PS1, NY, 2016; Fealty, 2016, Deluge, 2014, Receipt of Malice, 2012, and Wail Eternal Scorn of Geologic, 2010 all Bureau, New York. Selected group exhibitions include: Dead Eden, Lyles & King, NY (forthcoming); pər-ˈsō-nae, Klemm’s, Berlin; Lamerica, Bible, NY; Omul Negru, Cantacuzino Palace, Bucharest, Romania, Greater New York, MoMA PS1; Rotrixagatze, On Stellar Rays; New Hells, Derek Eller Gallery; and Gallery Loyal, Malmö. In 2009 he was a participating artist in Mirror Me organized by Kai Althoff and Brandon Stosuy at Dispatch, NYC. His works are in the permanent collection of the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, the Museum of Modern Art, NY and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

Installation view of metal and glass vitrine on stilts containing a sculpture made of cast iron depicting a decaying figure.
In a gallery space, a large metal and glass vitrine contains a cast iron sculpture resembling a decaying bust form.

In the Sewer of Your Body, 2018, Cast iron, steel, glass, 82 × 36.5 × 36.5 in.

In a gallery space, a large metal and steel sculpture rests on the floor to the left. In the middle is a graphite drawing hung in black frame next to another iron sculpture. To the right of the gallery is a large steel structure resembling a cattle container.
Installation view of a metal sculpture resembling a cattle hold, containing sculptures made of cast iron depicting a decaying figure. A drawing in graphite is hanging on the wall.
Installation view of a metal sculpture resembling a cattle hold, containing sculptures made of cast iron depicting a decaying figure.

Irresistible Grace, 2018, Cast iron, steel, 94 × 51 ¼ × 71 ½ in.

In a gallery space, a large cast iron metal sculpture rests on the floor. The sculpture resembles a riding saddle and accompanying straps on top of an architectural bracing structure.

Cradle of Sperm, 2018, Cast iron, steel, 41 ½ × 34 ½ × 62 in.

In a gallery space, a large cast iron metal sculpture rests on the floor. The sculpture resembles a riding saddle and accompanying straps on top of an architectural bracing structure. To the left of the sculpture is a realistic graphite drawing of a detail of a human body part.
In a black frame on a white wall, a realistic graphite drawing of a wrinkled part of a person's body.

Eden Prison, 2018, Graphite on paper, 25 × 22 ¾ in.

In a gallery space, a large metal and cast iron sculpture made up of different components. Resting on the base are abstract remnants of bodies next to a cube form. In the center of the gallery is a large metal sculpture resembling a cattle container. Behind the sculptures on the walls are two graphite drawings of genitals in black frames.
In a gallery space, a large cast iron metal sculpture rests on the floor. The sculpture is made up of multiple components. Cast iron forms resemble a contraption device, an abstracted body, and a cubic form.

Limited Atonement, 2018, Cast iron, steel, 34 × 62 ½ × 49 in.

In a gallery space, a large cast iron metal sculpture rests on the floor. The sculpture is made up of multiple components. Cast iron forms resemble a contraption device, an abstracted body, and a cubic form.
Hung on a gallery wall is a graphite drawing of a detail of a prolapsed organ in a black frame.

That Which is Falling Should Also Be Pushed, 2018, Graphite on paper, 32 ½ × 49 ⅜ in.

In a gallery space, a large floor iron floor sculpture resembling a cattle container. Behind the sculpture hung on the wall is a graphite drawing of horse genitals with a geometric pattern in a circle drawn above it in an irregularly shaped black frame.
On a gallery wall a graphite drawing depicting a close-up of horse genitals. Drawn above is circular form containing a gridded, bar-like pattern in front of a cube in an irregularly shaped black frame.

Unconditional Election, 2018, Graphite on paper, 46 × 26 ½ in.

Photography by Dario Lasagni.