As an object, a hook’s simple utilitarian functions means it often blends into the background. But ironically, in its metaphorical sense, a hook is also something engaging; the hook of the story. The object’s multiplicity and hidden complexities are the subject of a new exhibition in California’s Blunk Space, 100 Hooks. On view until February 11, the show curated by Mariah Nielson, daughter of JB Blunk and the director of Blunk Space and JB Blunk Estate, is a continuation of JB Blunk’s seminal 1981 show 100 Plates. 100 artists, including Martino Gamper, Adam Pogue, Minjae Kim, and Keita Matsuga, were invited to participate. The only brief? Make one (or more) hooks.
The response turned out to be as playful and expansive as the show’s inspiration. Works range from the delicate and romantic to abstract, dysfunctional, and seductive. Many in the show used the body as a point of reference. In Jochen Holz’s Hakennase, an upside down nose made from borosilicate glass offers a place to hang a coat. Meanwhile, John Gnorski’s Pinnochio takes the shape of a colorful and abstract face. Woody De Othello’s piece looks at ears to form his ceramic hook. For Jessica Thornton Murphy, the hand proved a more interesting focal point, resulting in a textured ceramic hand whose fingers curl as if in a cheeky “Come here.”
Others ventured further down south than the face and hands. Bethan Laura Wood embraced this joyfully in the pop-coloured Frilly XXX Shape 2. Even Blunk’s own untitled hook from 1970, also featured in the show, can’t help but recall a phallic sense with its strong protrusion. Alongside Kentaro Kawabata’s womb-like and yonic sculpture, one can’t help but wonder if there’s something about hooks that recall reproduction or if the playfulness of the show sparked tongue-in-cheek designs.
That’s not to say other moments of the exhibition aren’t meditative. Meryl Pataky’s glass and neon hook is both an exploration of the material and its community. The shape, vaguely akin to a dolphin with a unicorn horn, is effervescent through its glowing material, an unusual shape that reflects the artist’s frustrations with the status quo in the community.
Elsewhere, Madeleine Fitzpatrick described her mixed-material piece, dubbed On The Hook, as simply “a meditation on trying to hang in there.” In Jay Payton’s piece, Schismogenesis Within The Greed of Man, barbed wire twists and contorts around found objects, a tension depicting the struggle against gluttony and capitalism.
From the tall and leaning Three Point Hook by Leon Ransmeier to Shio Kusaka’s tiny UFO beaming onto the wall, the hooks presented in the show range in seriousness and whimsy, scale and style. As a whole, the exhibitions’ breadth of work is nothing short of fun.
100 Hooks is on view until February 11 at Blunk Space in Point Reyes Station, California.