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Vowel Play | Peter Coffin at Venus Over Manhattan

By Bill Powers

For anyone lamenting the disappearance of the artist’s hand in contemporary sculpture today, Peter Coffin has just the piece for you: a twelve and a half foot tall wooden construction built to resemble the universal symbol for “O.K.” Much like his Italian counterpart Maurizio Cattelan, Coffin lives on the absurdist fringe of conceptual art where critics are left wondering whether he’s a savant or are they the idiots for taking him seriously. “Vowels are fundamental sounds,” Coffin explains of “A, E, I, O, U,” the nonsensical title of his new exhibition, which opens at Venus Over Manhattan on Sept. 21

Just reading the vowels has an effect like mouthing the words to a song without the consonants. The vowels are ethereal and consonants are anchors. Many of his artworks strive for the appearance of self-generation, be it the aforementioned hand that looks as though it was whipped up in a tornado or a dodecahedron made of starfish cast in gold. Coffin is quick to point out that this complex five-sided shape is, according to Euclidean geometry, what Plato believed to be a building block of the cosmos, but then immediately offers another read where the starfish could’ve come together the way skydivers do for fun in free fall

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