Curated by Miranda McClintic
“A pioneer in the field of installation work, Judy Pfaff has created more than thirty temporary installations since 1975 including highly acclaimed works at the Whitney Biennial, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Venice Biennale. Using a wide range of materials, she transforms exhibition spaces in a seemingly improvisational manner, combining references to architecture, art, and nature to create formally beautiful, visually bold, and emotionally provocative installations.
Pfaff adopts images, materials, and rhythms from specific global locations for the environmental installation she makes, adapting an immense vocabulary of organic and geometric forms to chart humanity’s place in the universe. The intellectual gymnastics, extensive labor, and expert fabrication in these constructions engage viewers in following how the artist has realized her vision, step by step, leap by leap. Characteristic of the United States in their physical openness and heterogeneity, her works are amalgams of cross-cultural references derived from their immediate physical and social situations. These inclusive reformations of familiar reality encourage people to look at art and at the surrounding world in new ways.
Pfaff shipped to São Paulo a container of equipment and materials, used a small flatbed pickup truck to obtain supplies, and worked on site at the Bienal Foundation for six weeks, eighteen hours a day. Combining natural and industrial components from both the united states and Brazil, she and her assistants built a walk-through construction that is unique, temporary, and specifically made for the 24th São Paulo Bienal. Because Pfaff’s work depends on and reflects her kinesthetic relation to it, this installation was made by her hand, rather than being an idea engineered by others.”
– Excerpt from catalogue essay by Miranda McClintic, 1998