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Edward S. Curtis, "A Hopi
Man," photograph, 1921.

Inez van Lamsweerde, "Final Fantacy
Ursula", photograph, 1993.

Ghost in the Shell: Photography and the Human Soul, 1850-2000 is a complex exhibition curated by Robert A. Sobieszek of LACMA's photography department. The exhibition and scholarly catalogue that accompanies it traces the idea of representing the human soul by the camera. The works on display are arranged chronologically within three discreet categories of facial types: Blank, Expressive and False. Ranging from magnificent 19th-century photographs of suspected criminals, to examples of phrenology experiments, to portraits by Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, the exhibition juxtaposes the historic with the contemporary and the artistic with the scientific. The show title, Ghost in the Shell, which is derived from Masa-mune Shirow's graphic novel and animated film. This is an exhaustive and provocative investigation into the human obsession with physiognomy and projection, and reveals how photography, both as a tool and as an artistic medium, has been used to explore these concerns (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, West Hollywood).

Hélio Oticica, drawing of "The Eden Plan"--an
exercise for the creleisure and circulations, 1969.
Photo: Angelo Fiorini

Mira Schendel, "Untitled--Objeto Gráfico
(Graphic Object)", oi/letraset/rice paper/
acrylic sheets, 39.4 x 39.4", 1967.

The Experimental Exercise of Freedom presents the sculptural work of five Latin American artists who created what was considered experimental works during the 1950s-1970s. The artists--Lygia Clark, Gego, Mathias Goeritz, Hélio Oiticica, and Mira Schendel, all of whom are deceased--created works that were a departure from the more representational paintings and sculptures popular at the time. All favored works that were concerned with both space and environments. Here each artist is represented by a significant enough body of work to allow viewers to understand the impact of their practice as well as their influence on the trajectory of contemporary Latin American art (Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

Gilles Barbier, "De 'A' à 'alpha' + errata (From 'A
to 'Alpha' + 'Errata)", ink and gouache
on paper, 84 9/16 x 84 9/16", 1993.

Gilles Barbier makes reproductions the hard way: by hand. The French artist painstakingly copies, in minute detail, pages from Petit Larousse, a dictionary published in 1965, the year of his birth. Once you get past the sense of awe inspired by Barbier's dedication to so formidable a task, you may see his large, dense, ink and gouache transcriptions as a means of questioning the roles of artistic production. This exhibition, the first of Barbier's work in the United States, also includes a three-dimensional model inspired by the Dictionary Pages, and addendum's correcting occasional errors or stains on his drawings. Their inclusion further pushes questions regarding the authenticity of copies and the obligation of the copyist to offer the viewer "accurate" information (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara).

Linda Connor, “Handprints; Blue Mountain, Australia,” photograph, 1997, at Paul Kopeikin Gallery.

Linda Conner is a San Francisco-based landscape photographer whose evocative works transcend time and place. Connor has photographed spiritual sites in India, Tibet, Australia and Cambodia, among other places. The awe inspiring images here are juxtaposed with Connor's reprints of astrological glass plate negatives of the 1800’s. Here images of sky and land taken more than a century apart come together on the gallery wall, drawing uncanny parallels and similarities in the wonders of nature (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Both Linda Besemer and Linda Stark are interested in paint and surface, each presenting abstract works that explore the properties of the medium. Stark's works are more minimal than Besemer's but both painters present some of their best work to date. Besemer's work looks like it was made for the specific exhibition space. Her folded, draped and slab paintings are made entirely from layers of acrylic paint. In these works she carefully creates lines and stripes of bright colors that weave in and out. What is magical about these works is that they can (and must) be viewed from both sides. The relationship of back to front is as thought out and complex as her layering of paint. When viewed from the side one becomes aware of the crosssections of paint in what is revealed as a history of their creation (Angles Gallery, Santa Monica).

Previously hosted at Butterfield & Butterfield’s West Hollywood facility, photo l.a. 2000 this year moves it’s ninth photography expo to the Santa Monica Civic. Over the course of it’s first eight years participation grew from 25 to 40 galleries and dealers. The new venue allows a sudden jump to about 60. Hopefully this will not diffuse the overall high quality and tight focus of previous shows.
The preview reception on January 20th from 6-9pm once more will benefit DIFFA/Los Angeles’ AIDS service fund. Benefit tickets must be purchased directly from DIFFA; call (310) 652-6601. Regular hours will be Friday, January 21, 3-8pm, Saturday the 22nd, 12-8pm, and on the 23rd from 12-6pm. A continuing feature of photo l.a. are the photography collecting seminars and artist lectures, this year including Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, and Julius Shulman. These are held each day before regular fair hours and in the afternoon. A limited number of tickets will be available for the 10am seminars. Regular admission to photo l.a. 2000 will be $12 per day, or $20 for a three-day pass. For information and reservations please call Stephen Cohen Gallery at (323) 937-5482, fax (323) 937-5523. Photo l.a.’s Web site address is