These Massive, Uncanny Artworks Will Give You the Chills

Tara Donovan’s artworks are unexpected: they borrow manufactured goods, but they are never readymades; they are theatrical and serial, but rarely considered minimalist; and they are massive in scale, but never outsourced. Fieldwork at the MCA Denver revisits Donovan’s contributions from the last 20 years, bringing her wall-based and free-standing sculptures together under one roof for the first time. Her art is not a metaphor, it is not about identity, and it is not historical. So what is it?

Tara Donovan, “Untitled (Mylar)” (2011), Mylar and hot glue, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, photograph by Christopher Burke Studios)

Tara Donovan, “Untitled (Mylar)” (2011), Mylar and hot glue, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, photograph by Christopher Burke Studios)


We have a causal relationship with Donovan’s materials: rubber bands, plastic straws, index cards, and pins. We see them in our homes, we use them at work, we lose and replace them. They exist whether we think of them or not. In the 2013 book Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton, he introduces the term “hyperobject” to refer to things “massively distributed in time and space relative to humans.” A broad term ecologically and philosophically speaking, a hyperobject could be a product like Styrofoam, human-manufactured with a long lifespan, or something more difficult to point out, such as the sum of capitalism’s mechanisms.

Tara Donovan, “Transplanted” (2001/2018), tar paper, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery)

Tara Donovan, “Transplanted” (2001/2018), tar paper, (image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery)




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