Mark Handforth’s sculptures are surreal interpretations of urban spaces and the objects that inhabit them. His small and large-scale sculptural installations frequently employ wry humor and encourage close inspection of the surrounding space and architecture. Handforth often reworks and deforms the shapes and configurations of familiar objects found in civic infrastructure—municipal signs, fire hydrants, street lamps, traffic cones, wheels, and motor scooters––to create skewed perspectives and disrupt the objects’ functions, exposing their subtle cultural codes.
Commissioned by ICA Miami, Dr. Pepper (2017) is made from stainless steel and aluminum, coated in black and yellow enamel paint. Handforth forcefully bent and manipulated the material into a star shape that holds two red and violet fluorescent lights nestled in the folds of its metal angles. Rendered at a monumental size, the work transforms the ubiquitous symbol of the star into a tangible object firmly anchored to the ground. The artist explains that the star is both a “crazed and normal” form that is “everywhere and on and in everything,” something “so recognizable that [it] cease[s] to exist.” Similarly, the titular soda Dr. Pepper, whose branding shares its bright-red color with that of the sculpture’s fluorescent lights, may be just as ubiquitous. With a Pop art appeal, displacing, reframing, and reconstructing everyday symbols, signage, and objects, Handforth liberates the ordinary from its everyday context and grants it a new physical, conceptual, and social existence.
Mark Handforth (b. 1969, Hong Kong) has exhibited widely in the United States and internationally. He has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genoa (2016); CASS Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, United Kingdom (2015); Governors Island Public Art Program, New York (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2011); Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2011); and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2011). He has participated in group exhibitions at numerous museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2017); Peréz Art Museum Miami (2015); Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, France (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); MAMCO (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain), Geneva (2013); Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2007); and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2006). Handforth’s work was featured in the 2004 Whitney Biennial.