Larger-than-life figures tower in a cramped room. Indignant women dominate a crowded space. Androgynous girls intimidate, in imitation of traditional sculpture. Smoking, fucking, hair-pulling, von Zeipel’s figures are narcissistic youths, long-legged depictions of subcultural vitality. Challenging and exaggerating classical sculptural tropes, their features evoke images of museum collections and historical archives but these girls are no statues. Obstinately, they return the viewer’s gaze, refusing to take the historical role of women in sculpture; passive, dull, plump lips slightly parted.
For Arcadia Missa, in her first UK exhibition, von Zeipel creates a group of sculptures, each one a character, but unlike her previous girl-gangs, this is a group breaking apart. Schisms form, group identities split, tribes become divided. Individuals come into focus and simultaneously fade into the background, personalities shifting away from one another. Whereas once von Zeipel’s figures formed a united front in fierce defiance, here this same antipathy turns to isolation.
If von Zeipel’s work is about group identity and forming a sense of self through a subculture, Insulting the archive reflects a shift in this paradigm. Von Zeipel’s sculptures are becoming divided and isolated as gaybars, strip joints and cheap boozers shut down and the subcultures born in them start to dwindle and a group identity dissolves. As social provisions for historically marginalised groups are stripped away, von Zeipel’s sculptures, and the people they embody, are forced turn in on themselves and against one another.
Cajsa von Zeipel, born 1983, studied at the Städelschule (Frankfurt) and the Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm). She has recently been shown at Mitchell Algus Gallery (New York), The Scandinavian Institute (New York), Artipelag (Stockholm) and Swedish Art Now (Stockholm). Recent solo exhibitions include Saturn Return at Andrehn-Schiptjenko Gallery (Stockholm), Ponytails at Company (New York) and Zoo Collective-Cajsa von Zeipel vs Carl Milles, at Millesgården (Stockholm). In 2015, a monograph of her work, Pro Anatomy, was published by Capricious Publishing (New York).