The Walker Art Center’s current exhibition is like one of those television shows where a masked magician leaks the secrets of his most jaw-dropping stunts: you get the satisfaction of seeing a good trick and get to learn how it’s done. Aptly titled Lifelike, the showcase brilliantly ponders the nature of “reality” by showing just how easy it is to be duped into believing something that isn’t what it seems.
Manipulating theories of scale, perspective, reality, and authenticity, the showcase includes Common Objects, a painted fiberglass paper bag by Alex Hay, Jonathan Seliger’s massive milk carton called Heartland, and Susan Collins’ aggregation of wood, white gold, black diamonds, platinum, and other precious gemstones arranged to look like a mound of trash. There’s also a slab of bronze fashioned into a Kleenex box, a marble block chiseled to look like a Hefty bag, and a stop-motion video of candy wrappers disguised to look like falling rain set to the sound of eggs sizzling on a stove top.
It’s impressive enough that these very real-looking objects were fashioned out of materials far-flung from that which they represent. Though together in the context of the museum, it’s hard not to be led through a mass of other feelings, too, spanning confusion, joy, frustration, whimsy, thoughtfulness, and utter shock, all in classic Walker-exhibit style.