Volume 17, Number 52 | May 20 - 26, 2005

D’Amelio Terras Gallery
545 W. 22nd St.
Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Through May 26

Photo by Barb Choit

In a commentary on British class and wealth, Cornelia Parker’s “Rorschach (Thing 2)” (2005), part of an installation at D’Amelio Terras Gallery, features 34 silver-plated objects crushed by a 250-ton industrial press,

Flattening high tea

Cornelia Parker’s etiquette consists of irreversible compression and translation

By Andrew Cornell Robinson

Picture puzzles and riddles abound in “Rorschach,” the new Cornelia Parker installation at D’Amelio Terras Gallery. Parker’s work examines new territories by transforming the familiar.

“In Parker’s hands, nothing is stable,” a press release on the show states. “Objects fall apart, collide, combust, explode or are compressed to remerge as new and surprisingly beautiful forms.”

Specifically, Parker has blown up, with the help of British military personnel, garden sheds, and compressed sterling silver dinnerware. Symmetrical Rorschach-like compositions of flattened silver-plated objects are suspended just inches above the floor. This is how Parker creates the eventual quiet moments of contemplation.

As a whole, the installation has an ethos similar to “The Broken Kilometer” by Walter De Maria. Yet Parker’s work defies gravity and is imbued with a rich alchemical transformational process. For example, Parker begins with silver objects of desire, commemoration and wealth—candelabras, tea sets and platters—considered traditional class signifiers in her native Great Britain. These objects are then flattened and transformed with the help of an industrial press, “transgressing” their status as a precious talisman and undermining their elegance.

The artist states that she wants to “change their meaning, their visibility, their worth, that is why I flattened them…”

The work’s title is apt, in that an open-ended interpretation is left to the viewer. Yet each object retains a reference to its source and so it is easy to find allusions to Victorian notion of affluence lost through destruction and time. Rorschach then becomes a shorthand way of how the unknown is measured and personal histories and secrets are revealed.

By rearranging and manipulating materials Parker figuratively defines with visual language that which defies literal translation. The abstraction is breathtaking.

WWW Downtown Express

Subscribe to Downtown Express

Email our editor

View our previous issues

Report Distribution Problems

Who's Who at
Downtown Express

our latest family addition:

Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.

Downtown Express
487 Greenwich St.,
Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

All rights reserved.
Downtown Express and downtownexpress.com
are registered trademarks of Community Media, LLC
John W. Sutter, president


Phone: 212.229.1890 | Fax: 212.229.2790
Email: josh@downtownexpress.com


Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.
Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

Phone: 212.242.6162 | Fax: 212.229.2970
Email: news@downtownexpress.com

Written permission of the publisher
must be obtainedbefore any of the contents
of this newspaper, in whole or in part,
can be reproduced or redistributed.