Next week is your last chance to Cildo Meireles’s exhibition at Galerie Lelong in Chelsea. In it, the Brazilian artist’s show-stopping installation Amerikkka draws you into the main gallery space where a rectangle of poised gold bullets loom over a field of pristine white eggs. The eggs are plaster and intended to be walked on. Entering the space between these opposed forces, the threat of bullets overhead and the uncomfortable sensation of walking on eggshells below, puts the viewer in a fragile, vulnerable position. The viewer is a stand-in for society at large, as the title suggests by merging the words “America” and “KKK” (Klu Klux Klan).
The visual appeal of long, perfectly rows of small things draws one in. Given the solid plaster nature of the eggs, the sense of threat is somewhat stymied. The tilt of bullet-ridden ceiling could be opening up, or clamping down. Is the KKK a current or past threat, something beginning or ending, or per the title, embedded unavoidably in ideas of America? Recent events incline me to the latter interpretation.
The other works on view are more playful, even when they also reference social problems, such as the recent work Aquaurum. Encased in a vitrine are two tall identical glasses–one filled with water and one filled with gold. Meireles refers to water shortages in São Paulo inn this piece, but it could also be read in terms of duality and the philosophy of perception.
Themes of duality and perception are evidenced in the two large rectangles of starkly different content in Amerikkka, but also in works like Pares ímpares(2011/13), where two sets of identical glasses lay in a vitrine, with cracked lens on one side lit from below like spiderwebs.
Cildo Meireles’s exhibition is up through June 27.