Californian artist Kaari Upson uses found objects and narratives as starting points for her work. Upson is interested in issues of identity, familiarity, and domesticity. In 2007, she initiated the long-term Larry Project that involved the collection and rearrangement of abandoned objects, photographs, and personal ephemera she discovered at a burned-down house in her neighborhood. The project was an intimate and at times manic investigation into the life of a stranger, resulting in a large body of work that included video, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and performances.

For her 2011 installation at the Overduin and Kite gallery in Los Angeles, Upson recreated a cast figure of Larry, which she subsequently burned in a room-sized box. For this same exhibition, Upson presented a series of charcoal tablets that preserved her bodily motions. To produce these works, she mixed charcoal dust with resin and performed movements over flexible metal sheets, such as dragging, contracting, and pouring. The sheets were altered by the corporeal weight of the artist, capturing her gestural actions. In Charcoal Tablet 6, the artist pressed her fist into the material, transcribing the sexual act of fisting and creating a work that blurs the lines of performance, sculpture, and painting.

Upson’s Charcoal Tablet 6 enriches the ICA/Boston’s collection of works by artists, such as Mona Hatoum and Sophie Calle, who explore the intersection of sculpture and performance to examine issues of trust and intimacy.

800.13.06

Promised gift of James and Audrey Foster