World Trade, Michael Wang’s third solo exhibition at Foxy Production, tracks the international exchange in steel salvaged from the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. The exhibition comprises arrangements of steel sheets from Chinese and Malaysian companies that recycled steel from the site, mementoes made from WTC steel, and extensive documentation of the international trade in the repurposed metal.
In the aftermath of the attacks on the Twin Towers, the steel that formed the buildings’ structure became a commodity in the global marketplace. Bringing the steel almost full circle, back to lower Manhattan, the artist maps the logistics of this trade and points to its symbolic significance. Bubbling under his analysis is the attacks’ unfathomable loss of life and its effects on the survivors, and how this loss has spiraled outward to affect people across the world.
Each of the three installations includes series of steel elements placed on the floor of the gallery, in a manner reminiscent of Minimalist sculpture from the 1960s and ‘70s. While these earlier works are meant to be emptied of all external references, to be understood as just objects, Wang’s works are purposefully infused with history and allusion. The objects in the gallery are the outcome of global journeys that are central to the works themselves. The images and texts on the walls record both the steel’s movement out of New York and the process by which the artist has returned this material to New York. But these documents capture more than the physical circulation and exchange of the steel components: they record the emotional toll that this economy has wrought.
Photography: Mark Woods.