Andra Ursuta


The work of Andra Ursuta, deeply influenced by the culture and history of her country of origin, reworks Balkan identity in a complex way, combining references to traditional folklore with research on feminine identity. Through the use of a vast range of materials – from organic substances like eggs to artificial things like resin, or other more traditional materials like marble and stone – the artist has explored a wide variety of techniques, with a leaning towards sculpture based on its immediate relationship with the body, an element that recurs almost obsessively in her output. Even when the human figure is not present, there is an echo of the body in Ursuta’s work that translates into irreverent, provocative and at times violent sculptures, charged with dark symbolism and black humor. The project created for Peep-Hole consists in reflection on power and the symbols that embody its image. 

The exhibition space is dominated by two large sculptures, Soft Power 1 and (2013), which at first glance seem like crumpled heaps of colored fabric, but then turn out to be two fists on a monumental scale that gradually take form under the gaze of the viewer through a slow process of inflation. The enlargement of a fist is contrasted by the reduced scale of a building constructed for war, another symbol of ideology. A Worm’s Dream Home 2, 3, 4 (2013) are miniature replicas of a German war bunker located on the coast of Normandy. Ursuta uses cement, the same material employed to make such buildings, but pours it into a soft mould that completely alters its original appearance: the walls sag and become deformed, the structures seems to be collapsing. To complete this sarcastic transfiguration of the symbols of power, Broken Obelisk (2013) offers a grotesque caricature of one of the most ancient commemorative monuments, the obelisk. The particular monolithic form of this architectural element is inevitably compromised by the fact that it has been split to adapt to the form of a chair, on which the obelisk is seated as if it were a person. 

Each work in the show is thus a vaguely melancholy caricature that re-examines the gutted power of various monuments of the past. The fist, a symbol of resistance and unity, portrayed in the angular and brutal style of the art of Communist propaganda, is grotesquely distorted and rendered ridiculous by a clumsy tangle of knitted comforters that evoke a dimension of the home and crafts. It seems more like a giant oven mitt than a public monument, and the fact that there are two fists further undermines their monumentality. The three little bunkers, replicas of a real one built by the Germans during World War II, are crumpled and deflated like old beach balls discarded on the sand. The seated obelisk, finally, takes on anthropomorphic features, transforming the ancient monument into a senile, bent figure that might suggest the fossilized remains of a Ku Klux Klan costume, or a bizarre snowman.

Andra Ursuta (Salonta, Romania, 1979. Lives and works in New York) took a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in 2002 at Columbia University in New York. Recent solo shows include: Solitary Fitness, Venus Over Manhattan, New York, 2013; Mothers, Let Your Daughters Out into the Streets, François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; Magical Terrorism, RAMIKEN, New York; Storage Space, 3 Delancey Street, New York, 2012; Vandal Lust, RAMIKEN, New York, 2011; The Management of Barbarism, RAMIKEN CRUCIBLE, New York, 2010. Andra Ursuta participated at the 55th Venice Biennale,Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, Venice, Italy.

01. Andra Ursuta, Soft Power 1, 2013
Fabric and components, dimensions variable

02. Andra Ursuta, Soft Power 1, 2013 (detail)
Fabric and components, dimensions variable

03. Andra Ursuta, Soft Power 1 and 2, 2013
Fabric and components, dimensions variable

04. Andra Ursuta, Soft Power 2, 2013
Fabric and components, dimensions variable

05. Andra Ursuta, Fartchitectures
Exhibition view

06. Andra Ursuta, A Worm’s Dream Home 2 and 3, 2013
Concrete, 33x66x51 cm and 41x58x46 cm

07. Andra Ursuta, A Worm’s Dream Home 4, 2013
Concrete, 36x56x58 cm

08. Andra Ursuta, Broken Obelisk, 2013
Aquaresin and chair, 46x142x91 cm

09. Andra Ursuta, Broken Obelisk, 2013
Aquaresin and chair, 46x142x91 cm