Letha Wilson: Landmarks and Monuments

by R.C. Baker

Letha Wilson

The Village Voice


Like Le Corbusier, Letha Wilson finds ways to combine landscape, in this case the American West, with steel and concrete. In the witty Face Down (Sunset) (2013), Wilson has curled the corner of a large slab of rusty steel to reveal a triangular section of a photograph affixed to the other side. The color is warm and gradated but we have to take the artist’s word that it actually depicts a sunset, since the heavy sheet lies flat on the floor. More than a few art-historical concepts intersect here, including Serra’s hernia-inducing equipoise, Andre’s lead tiles colonizing a gallery floor, and the obscured content of Duchamp’s “Étant donnés.”

In another piece, Wilson adheres a photograph of trees to a cement tondo that has been molded with accordion-like folds; elsewhere, a similar photo has been driven into the wall with a 10-foot length of two-by-four. These works are humorous, but with their violent collision of lovely images and rough industrial forms, they also summon notions of frontier ruthlessness and the eternal disharmony of civilization and nature.