Elaine Sturtevant is an octogenarian American who has lived in Paris for the past 20 years. She caused a furore in the New York 1960s art world when she made detailed repetitions – not copies, she insists – of Andy Warhol’s flowers.
Sturtevant - Serpentine Gallery, London
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Her idea was to expose the “understructure” of an art world obsessed with surface, to probe ideas about originality and authorship. Video is now her primary medium and it dominates this show, but there’s a smattering of those repetitions – including a Warhol Marilyn and a recreation of a Félix González-Torres installation, in which lightbulbs tumble to the floor into a ring, mirroring the Serpentine gallery’s circular skylight.
Playful nods to the Serpentine’s position in the middle of Hyde Park abound in Finite Infinite (2010), looped footage of a labrador running in grass is projected along the wall, while against the window in another room is a gaggle of half-inflated sex dolls looking out to the verdant park.
On a bank of screens nearby is Elastic Tango (2010), a hectic procession of images ranging from Betty Boop cartoons to Liberace’s tapping foot to the billowing stars and stripes. This visual and aural bombardment is informed by what Sturtevant calls the “cybernetic imposition” of the digital world, where the flood of information is trumping deep knowledge and reality is crudely distorted. She has spoken of the “vast barren interior of man” – perhaps those sex dolls, empty and with gaping mouths, are Sturtevant’s grim vision of us in the 21st century.