On the Ropes
Meghan Edwards -- Interior Design, 3/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
The nine colossal black forms greeting visitors to the Indianapolis Museum of Art are at once threatening and inviting, a duality that's at the core of "Orly Genger: Whole." Through June 14, this installation fills the museum's entrance pavilion with hundreds of thousands of feet of nylon rope that Genger has hand-knotted, painted with latex, and stacked, using internal bracing for the tallest sculptures. Each takes its title from a 1960's or '70's bodybuilder. Constructing them, she explains, "I like to pretend I'm a boxer, dishing out a bloody beating, or a ballerina with my toes barely skimming the ground. My work is the product of those two people falling in love."
Looming over all the other forms is Joe, named for Joe Abbenda, Mr. Universe of 1963. At 17 feet tall and 1,925 pounds, this giant embodies Genger's epic battle with 52,224 feet of rope—assisted by scaffolding, ladders, and scissor lifts. "I sweat. I curse. I feel like I'm wrestling with an octopus," she says.
On the whole, "Whole" is about struggling with self-assertion, as raw ideas duke it out with actualization. That's a feeling designers know well.