Siah Armajani’s “Follow This Line”
              Ania Szremski
              “Habit is like a cotton blanket. It covers up all the sharp edges, and it dampens all noises,” Vilém Flusser mused in his 1984 essay “Exile and Creativity.” Comfortable and self-affirming, the familiar is “a mud bath where it is nice to wallow.” There’s a sensation of wading into that warm gooey tub when you first encounter Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani’s sculptures from the 1970s at his Met Breuer retrospective, “Follow This Line.” His models of houses, bridges, rooms, and gates draw from an old-timey tradition of plain vernacular architecture gleaming with middle-American wholesomeness, but look a little closer, that air of comfort turns out to be a trick—an innocently nondescript bridge doesn’t let you out the other side, a dependably sober log house refuses entry, a Norman Rockwell main street is shuttered and shrouded in black. The noises of strangeness rush in, forebodingly. For the expelled, who has been uprooted from a life of cozy continuity, “everything becomes unusual, monstrous, in the true sense of the word un-settling,” Flusser wrote. And it’s this perception of the world that drives the exiled “to discover the truth” of experience, inconstant and fractious. In her catalog essay for “Follow This Line,” curator Clare …

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