Feature

Buster Graybill: Progeny of Tush Hog

Graybill’s new sculptures also function as wild-animal feeders, and photographs and videos of animals intent on getting their meal are part of the exhibit.

Austin Museum of Art
Through Feb. 19

Buster Graybill’s new sculptures pull some unusual double duty, said Garland Fielder in Artforum. In addition to being art objects, the Texas-based artist’s new works, which he calls “tush hogs” after a species of feral boar native to East Texas, also function as wild-animal feeders: Each one can be filled with corn feed, which spills from small holes if the feeder is jostled. On the grounds of the Austin Museum of Art’s Laguna Gloria park space and inside the galleries, the banged-up diamond-plate aluminum polyhedrons currently greet visitors “like a gaggle of drunkards proud of their debauched bruises.” Outfitted with motion-activated cameras, the sculptures previously were scattered on ranch grounds near San Antonio so that Graybill could capture images of the animals that came to feed from and do damage to them. Photographs and videos in the show “provide evidence of a sort of witches’ Sabbath––aoudad sheep, for instance, slamming into the forms with juvenile and hedonistic delight.”

The horned sheep weren’t the only animals that took part in the bacchanal, said Jeanne Claire van Ryzin in The Austin American-Statesman. Raccoons, deer, and even wild hogs also showed up. On the walls, Graybill’s photos and videos “reveal the strange, unexpected, and comical ways in which the wildlife interact with the sculptures,” which resemble Donald Judd’s iconic stainless-steel forms. Museum visitors, meanwhile, are encouraged to push the sturdy tush hogs around, “provided they can wrestle with them”: Some weigh as much as 200 pounds. The “physical collision between animals and artwork” offers a metaphor, of course, for the ways that nature collides with human ingenuity and sprawl. But with his playful sensibility, Graybill is also “testing and teasing the boundaries of contemporary art.”

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