There seems to be an obvious juxtaposition between the mathematical logic of symmetry and the mind-expanding potential of a parallel world. Yet the two are mutually inclusive in Tauba Auerbach’s first UK solo exhibition at the ICA where a series of immaculately conceived and crafted sculptures (and one photograph) represent theories on an alternate universe, existing parallel to our own.
‘The New Ambidextrous Universe’ is not just a dumping ground for all those left-handed people you never meet, it’s the space where Tauba Auerbach pairs physics and art, where sculptures almost intertwine but never quite (Square Helix II) and reflections are captured, distorted and reflected back to the viewer (Prism Scan II). It’s a collection of considered, visual palindromes.
It’s testament to Auerbach’s art that she is able to distil such complex theories into the sparsely arranged gallery; there are just seven works of art in total and the colour, texture and form of each are as controlled as her ideas. As ever in her work, the intellectual concept is deeply imbedded in the process, placement and materiality of her sculptures. The title of the exhibition is taken from Martin Gardner’s ‘The New Ambidextrous Universe’, a tome which explores the duality of a mirror universe and the idea of ‘chirality’ (when an opposite is not exact). Inspired by this concept, Auerbach has created powder-coated steel sculptures reminiscent of knit stitches and hook-and-eye closures, which mirror each other in form, interlocking, but never touching. On the floor two almost identical installations – ‘The New Ambidextrous Universe III’ and ‘The New Ambidextrous Universe IV’ – are constructed from raw plywood, but have been manipulated by hand to create parallel, but unidentical versions of one another.
Auerbach’s precise aesthetic and colour palette fits neatly into the ICA’s Lower Gallery. There’s an inherent tactility to her work and it’s no surprise that in the past she has dabbled in the design world too. She has a natural instinct for colour and space. And if this is what the other world looks like, I want in.