After they air-dry and cure in the sun, the cubes are fired in a traditional brick kiln with wood, jacaranda seeds, and coconut shells, a process that imbues them with varied hues, streaks of green and black, and surface fissures, giving each element a unique identity.
Sodi considers these works living sculptures, the surfaces determined by the essential character of the materials and processes rather than the imposition of the artist’s will. His work is informed by the Japanese aesthetic notion of Wabi-sabi, where beauty is expressed in imperfection, transience, and simplicity. Each earthen cube represents an essential geometry and a primary unit of mass. Stacked in columns, they imply a system of building that can be extended to myriad structural possibilities.
Wall (Muro) documents a performative installation by Sodi that took place in Garibaldi Plaza in Washington Square Park, New York City, on September 7, 2017. On that day, Sodi erected a 2-meter-high by 8-meter-long wall constructed with 1,600 unique clay timbers that he had fired by hand at his studio in Oaxaca, Mexico with the help of local craftsmen. Later the same day, visitors were invited to remove one timber to take home with them. The artist intends the installation to endure in its dispersed state as a communally co-owned work of art.
Muro invoked diverse metaphors of separation and division, as well as commonality, intersection, and community, activated by the public as they collectively disassembled the wall. Evoking echoes of the controversy over art in the public realm elicited by Richard Serra’s Titled Arc (1981), Sodi’s project is a poetic manifestation of political, social, and historical tensions in the current national conversation and expands upon his ongoing interest in organic processes beyond the artist’s control.
The section of Muro donated to the Nasher Sculpture Center—a 5-unit-by-5-unit cube—stands as a document of this moving installation and performance, as well as an important example of Sodi’s work in sculpture. The work enriches the collection’s holdings of Post-Minimalist objects by artists such as Joel Shapiro and Christopher Wilmarth, and a subsequent generation, including Martin Puryear and Anish Kapoor, that has continued to explore the legacy and consequences of these artists’ work. Muro also augments the collection’s representation of works that document ephemeral performances, such as the recently acquired photographs of Ana Mendieta. The assemblage of clay timbers is the fourth work in fired clay to enter the collection and thus continues the investigation of innovative uses of the material by artists of the avant-garde initiated in the 2013 exhibition Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963. The gift is accompanied by photos for the Nasher’s archive documenting the dismantling of the installation in Washington Square Park.
Sodi’s work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions and is included in the collection of notable museums in Europe, Japan, and North America. The artist currently lives and works in New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Mexico City, and Oaxaca.