Amalia Pica is the first major solo museum exhibition in the US of the London-based artist’s work, providing an in-depth look at nearly a decade of her artistic practice. Using materials such as photocopies, light bulbs, drinking glasses, and cardboard, Amalia Pica (b. 1978, Argentina) confronts the failures, gaps, and slippages of communication. The act of delivering and receiving a verbal or nonverbal message, and the various forms that communicative exchange may take, are central to her work. In Babble, Blabber, Chatter, Gibber, Jabber, Patter, Prattle, Rattle, Yammer, Yada yada yada (2010) Pica spells out the work’s title using semaphore flags. The Catachresis sculptures (2011–) are made with objects whose features are referred to metaphorically as parts of the human body, i.e., the tongue of a shoe, the teeth of a saw, the legs of a table, etc. The title of the series is derived from the literary term describing the misapplication of a word or expression to denote something that does not have a name.
The literal and metaphorical figure of the listener is also at the center of much of Pica’s work. While Acoustic Radar in Cardboard (2010/2012) reimagines an outmoded precursor to radar, Eavesdropper (2011) suggests the complex relationship between listening, privacy, and consent. Other works reflect fleeting moments of shared experience, often incorporating the signifiers of celebration and communal gatherings with fiesta lights, bunting, and confetti.
Born during the period of Argentina’s dictatorship, Pica has long been interested in the relationship between form and politics, and between history and representation. In Venn Diagrams (Under the Spotlight) (2011) the artist addresses the political history of 1970s Argentina when modern mathematics was banned from school programs. Pica also looks to civic participation and social forms that allow people to speak. Stage (as seen on Afghan Star) (2011) alludes to the Afghan television program for aspiring pop stars; for many voting for their favorite, the show offered a rare public forum for the expression of individual opinion. Surveying the artist’s sculpture, performance, installation, video, and drawing, the exhibition is itself conceived as a conversation among Pica’s works across various mediums.