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by Jody Zellen

(Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills) Glen Seator is a sculptor whose large scale works incorporate the environment that surrounds them. He is interested in how the work, the ‘sculpture,’ will transform not only the space but the viewer's perception of that space. For this installation Seator reconstructs the façade and interior of a check cashing store located at 1561 Sunset Boulevard, adding a second entrance to the Gagosian Gallery. Viewers will be able to enter the gallery through its main entrance as well as through the ‘roll-up’ garage door. When entering what appears to be a check cashing store one is immediately struck by the fact that it is not an operating business. It is a simulation. There is no clerk, and the ‘customers’ will not enter expecting to cash checks. But Seator has carefully recreated the interior and exterior of the business. The materials and lighting and signage parallel the original; only the context and location have changed.

Glen Seator, compete reproduction
of check cashing business located
at 1561 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles,
façade of Gagosian Gallery, 1999

A check cashing establishment in Beverly Hills on Camden Drive, one might ask? That is just the point. In researching the landscape of Los Angeles the artist has chosen to bring two disparate locations together, cutting out everything in between. The difference between Richard Meier's gallery design and the generic non-design of the check cashing store cannot be ignored. Through the interior of the reconstructed store one can see into the gallery space but cannot enter. Similarly, when standing in the unaltered portion of the gallery the built-in store becomes a sculptural object. From the windows at the back of the check cashing store one can see into the contrasting volume of space but not enter into it. It thus becomes a free-standing sculpted form, a large construction made of two-by-fours and drywall.

The Three of this exhibition's title refers to the three locations from which the work is derived: the Gagosian Gallery; the location on Sunset Boulevard; and an uninhabited portion of the desert at Los Angeles' border. In the rear exhibition space of the gallery, Seator has installed a 360-degree panoramic photograph. This image is a continuous color print that was shot in the desert using a special camera designed to capture the expansive space on a single piece of film. Seator photographed in a place where all references to culture would disappear. His image is devoid of human presence. It is an image of open space. Open space and the desert landscape are reminders of the undeveloped state of Los Angeles’ environment.

Seator is interested in how we define site and the relationship between a space and its representation. In his work he breaks down boundaries, bringing the outside in or making the unseen and off limits visible. In previous installations, such as Approach, at Capp Street Projects in San Francisco in 1997, he brought the street into the gallery, recreating the yellow lines, the lane markers as well as the signage of the street in the gallery. For the 1997 Whitney Biennial Seator created a replica of the Director's office tilted to a 45-degree angle. When looking into the carpeted room, complete with furniture, tipped on its side, the sense of dislocation was overwhelming. Although the space could not be entered, it seemed familiar and disconcerting simultaneously.

In Three the familiar and the unknown merge. We see a photograph, a sculpture and a storefront, all created for the exhibition. The photograph and the storefront are representations of places that exist. The storefront becomes a sculpture when seen from the inside of the gallery, and the gallery becomes a host for another site. A site that would never exist on its own exists in this location. Why, we ask? Why a photograph of the empty desert? Is it empty? If Seator is presenting an image where construction ends, what fills the frame? Nature? Why transplant a building that would never be found in Beverly Hills to Beverly Hills? Clearly not to fool unsuspecting customers. Seator wants to transform the given and make it into something else. The space becomes host to a series of events that reference architecture, the urban core, the open landscape, and the various codes and cultures of the inhabitants of Los Angeles.