"Specimen," polyester color print from a
35mm motion film, 60 x 40", 1997.

"Specimen A," polyester print, 40 x 60", 1997.

"Specimen H" (detail), polyester print,
28 x 77", 1997.


by Judith Hoffberg

(Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Santa Monica) A one-of-a-kind Los Angeles icon has returned to L.A. after a long absence, with excerpts from a photographic project called "Hollywood Archaeology", an accumulation of film clips found on the streets of Los Angeles. Known as a performance artist, writer, and conceptual artist, Darling has continually and provocatively revealed the absurdity of political and cultural systems. In this throw-away society he has found the material to create art, small enough to be ensconced in the Museum of Jurassic Technology and large enough to be seen on the walls of a major art gallery.

Founder of the Fat City School of Finds Art, he passed out master's degrees to anyone who wanted them, graduating over 50,000 students. He also founded the Center of World Problems, offering absurd solutions to world problems that perhaps were not so absurd. Once again the provoca-teur, he questions the theory of authorship, by appropriating these images--movie film fragments that incorporate performances of actors, the photography of cinematographers, the visions of directors, along with the chance actions of people and cars in the street. This long delayed project was interrupted by a lengthy battle with the IRS that began in 1968, when the IRS maintained that Darling was not an "artist" because he didn't earn enough money from it. After many years, he ironically received a government grant that changed his income level, qualifying him for the designation by the IRS of "artist."

Now finding a way to make "artifacts" large enough for collectors, some of these images have been blown up and printed on polyester paper. They evoke space pictures from JPL and found remnants of billboards. The original frames are also exhibited as "specimens" in plexiglass boxes on the wall. A film that has taken 20 years to produce will also be shown at the gallery on October 4th. This on-the-wall exhibition by an off-the-wall artist brings a former candidate for Governor of California (as performance art) back into the gallery as an Artist. Welcome back!