CONTINUED AND RECOMMENDED, JUNE 2015

 

Chris Burden working on “Metropolis II,” 2010.

 

When Chris Burden succumbed to cancer last month at age 69 I had to think again about the premature departure of Mike Kelley three years ago.  Not because there is any similarity in the circumstance or spirit of the loss, but that arguably the two most key creative figures in visual art of their generation have died early, if at least well into their very productive maturity. There is an element of irony that Burden’s early performance career was specifically defined by his deliberate if carefully controlled exposure to fatality (by gunfire, electrocution, drowning or, for heaven’s sake, crucifixion). Burden was willing, in those days, to incur physical wounds so as to imply that he was willing to risk his life to make an aesthetic point. But as time went on it became clear he was too smart and probably well adjusted to undergo the death by excess that rock ’n’ roll contemporaries such as Morrison, Joplin and Hendrix permitted themselves to indulge in. No, these antics were not a thinly veiled death wish so much as a dare — which almost none among his peers were willing to ante up on. For sure I wasn’t.

 

The buzz lasted right up to the present day, but was ultimately outshone by what became a long string of remarkably rich, muscular and engaging installation projects. Somehow one, “Urban Light,” became an international symbol for Los Angeles, with others addressing war (“A Tale of Two Cities” [1981]), navigation (“Ghost Ship” [2005]), urban transportation (“Metropolis II” [2008]), architecture (“Twin Quasi-Legal Skyscrapers” [2013]), not to mention art itself (“The Big Wheel” [1979]). His final completed work, “Ode to Santos Dumont,” is an airship that may be seen right now at LACMA as a special homage to the artist. Burden’s nod to the pioneer aviator, primitive yet contemporary, awkward but lighter than air, seems a fitting farewell, a metaphorical apotheosis. But not a real one, since Burden will be with us for a long time to come. We have lift-off.

Bill Lasarow

 

 

 

William Pope.L, “Trinket,” 2008, mixed media installation with custom-made 54 x 16’ American flag, is currently on view at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary.  Photo: Brian Forrest

 

 

It is impossible not to be moved by William Pope.L's noisy, confrontational and monumental exhibition, “Trinket.” Upon entering the voluminous space the sound of whirring fans greets us in advance of identifying its source. In the darkened space one is immediately drawn to the sight of the show's title work, a gigantic, fluttering (thanks to those industrial sized fans) American flag. But in Pope.L's version there is a 51st star, a state that does not yet exist except as a possibility or, perhaps, a state of mind. While the flag is the clear centerpiece of the exhibition, other works are also included: paintings and videos as well as an installation of hundreds of painted onions arrayed on tables throughout the galleries, slowly going bad even as they sprout fresh green shoots — another gesture to undermine what is expected and what can be construed as art. Pope.L's work has always been confrontational, simultaneously offering hope with a counterpoint of unsparing critique. This show proves that in the 21st century art can still shock (MOCA, the Geffen Contemporary, Downtown).

Jody Zellen

 

 

Anna Carey, “Reception,” 2010, giclee print, 31 x 46 1/2", is currently on view at PYO.

 

 

People live in highly individualized spaces, even though overall we might understand a room to consist of a simple four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Our experiences, our sensibilities and our emotions are reflected in the spaces we make for ourselves. In the delightful group show “re/Constructed” 11 artists riff on that idea, inventing loosely defined architecture through drawing, painting, photography and sculpture. Guest curator Corinne Chaix is herself is an LA-based artist who excels in moody Surrealism and has included one of her paintings in the show, “Virtual World,” a portrait of a man sitting inside an oblong cube, coolly observant and isolated from the world. Of course, houses, buildings and rooms appear throughout the show, but the similarities end there. Photographer Anna Carey builds her own models and photographs them, producing large prints in saturated colors. They are interiors and exteriors in a kind of dilapidated midcentury style, clearly models and places that Barbie and Ken might live in. “New Galaxy” depicts a motel in the desert, replete with three cactus trees, a desert setting and blue sky. "Reception” takes us into the interior of a swank lobby, with a cool cantilevered staircase coming down one wall. Others among my personal favorites are the house sculptures of Michael Jantzen that are miniaturized enough to be placed on small, individual shelves. In their white finish and reductive forms, they become iconic metaphors. In "Rocking House" two houses stuck together bottom-to-bottom are mounted between two wheels, their fates tied together by the Wheel of Fortune. In "Dream House," there is a single bed, with tightly tucked sheets, that sits in the abode's open doorway. The pillow end is just inside the house; one imagines lying in that bed, looking out to the world. Indeed, the magic of these pieces lies in being able to transport oneself into the space of the artwork, as if one were there (PYO Gallery, Downtown).

Scarlet Cheng

 

 

Phyllis Green, “Samidh” (detail view), 2014, mixed media, 66 x 40 x 40”, is currently on view at LAM.  Photo: Ave Pildas

 

 

Phyllis Green's new sculptures and photographs are the culmination of a project made during a Guggenheim Fellowship. Green is a master of many mediums, though best known for her sculptural work, which was last seen in her retrospective exhibition "Splendid Entities: 25 Years of Objects by Phyllis Green" at Otis College of Art and Design (2011). In "Walking the Walk" Green presents a suite of new sculptures along with photographs of her interactions with these objects. The sculptures take their point of departure from the “Upanishads," the ancient Indian classic that advises that the first step toward enlightenment is for individual to approach a guru with wood on their heads. Each of the works is a discreet unit, a kind of hybrid-vehicle that can be entered as well as pushed around the space (they are on wheels). Many of the metal sculptures have fabric bags that contain different types of wood, some real, some fabricated, all carefully stacked atop the work. The accompanying photographs depict Green inside these objects, acting out a private performance. One can't help but smile seeing an image of Green peaking out from behind a fabric curtain. These works represent a rich new direction both materially and conceptually for the artist, who continues to remain open to taking chances and pushing her work in unexpected and exciting new directions (LAM Gallery, Hollywood).

JZ

 

 

Joe Zorrilla, “Untitled (Articulate),” 2015, mixed media, is currently on view at Hannah Hoffman.  Photo: Michael Underwood

 

 

Joe Zorrilla's modest sized, staged objects hover around their galleries in repose and/or ready to attack. Taken from afar, they strike us as dark but vague, with the odd exceptions of two hanging plastic bags (each dubbed "Torn Intimacy"), one from the rafters, the other from the skylight, both filled with honey and used motor oil. They and a few other pieces are a bit quaint on their own, but in concert with the larger group of gestures, they heighten the drama and keep things moving. Zorrilla's at his best when the up-close examination that is demanded pays off, as with "Untitled (Articulate)," a rock that's been sliced in half, a layer of felt mounted into its crevice, and finally mounted on a withdrawn corner shelf. Another “Untitled” is a found classic wood desk chair whose left-front leg in perched on a piece of bone. The show's tour de force (which gets its own room) is a bed of memory foam indented with pieces of glass and bronzed finger joints, an artichoke heart — the entire tableau balanced quietly on a sawhorse. Pilfering a line from a poem by Nicanor Parra in the show's press release helps capture Zorilla's pursuit: “… that second of all in everything I write I am hanging from the wing of a fly; or rather I am clinging tooth and nail …” (Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Hollywood).

Michael Shaw

 

 

Sabastiao Salgado, “Candy Apples, the Outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala,” 1978, gelatin silver print, is currently on view at Peter Fetterman.

 

 

"Tiempo Perdido" is a stunning group show. It succeeds through its strong humanist imagery and sophisticated aesthetics, capturing the life, landscape, and people of Latin America. The mostly black-and-white photos are displayed in such a way that everyone of the five artists, including Sebastião Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Flor Garduño, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Mario Algaze, and Luis González Palma was given his or her own wall (or two), sometimes displayed in close proximity to one another, if they worked together, such as Garduño and Cartier-Bresson with Bravo. The female Mexican photographer was Bravo’s darkroom assistant. Cartier-Bresson and Bravo photographed and exhibited together during the former's stay in Mexico. This show opens with Salgado’s works of laborers in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil, in which he stresses their poverty, simplicity, and hardships; but also their social cohesion and thirst for freedom — often presented in breathtaking nature. In “Thanksgiving Prayer (Oaxaca, Mexico)” (1980) two men are standing on top of a hill facing their backs towards the camera with their arms spread apart. In this position they seem like two crosses. In “Candy Apples (The Outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala)" (1978) a little girl is nibbling on a candied apple as she smiles for the camera, while carrying others on her head. In the same image a somber looking woman is staring in the abyss through a small window. Across the way from Salgado’s works are the haunting tinted photographs of Gonzalez Palma, which presents a number of portraits of the Mayan and mestizo people, whose large brown eyes are gazing at the viewer, as if their souls are exposed (Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica).

Simone Kussatz

 

 

Oliver Michaels, “Goof,” 2015, archival ink jet print, 51 1/2 x 37 x 2 1/4” (framed), is currently on view at Shoshana Wayne.

 

 

Two series of digitally manipulated photographs in addition to three projected videos comprise Oliver Michaels’ current exhibition. Its title, "Fill: Content-Aware" is an option of Photoshop software, and alludes to the way the images have been created. In "Composite Exteriors" Michaels uses Photoshop to construct an image of a building's facade created from compositing images he photographed of various architectural fragments and concrete textures. In some, a surreal structure has been created and situated in a believable environment — sidewalk, street, foliage, fencing. While the "Composite Exteriors" emphasize a formal geometry, the "Clay Composites" are more sculptural. In these photographs Michaels worked with clay fashioned into bulbous forms and formations which were photographed in different stages — small, large, augmented, etc. and later assembled to become a whole sculpture that only exists in fragments outside of the computer and the printed image of the composited work. Once Michael's process is understood the works lose some of their appeal, as the compositing becomes too obvious. That being said, the photographs are compelling amalgamations of impossible structures that appear to be real (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).

JZ

 

 

Attributed to Stefano da Verona, “Initial A:  Pentecost,” ca. 1430-35, cutting from an antiphonal, Lombardy, is currently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum.  Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

 

 

Very few professional artists today tailor their work exclusively for a single client. Artist/patron relations were quite different in Northern Italy during the Renaissance. There, individual painters and illuminators typically worked under contract to wealthy members of the royalty or the Church, producing lavishly decorated works that would underscore their sponsors' elite status and religious devotion. How this arrangement influenced the content and style of illuminations such as the nearly two-dozen decorative manuscripts and choir book pages on exhibition in “Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts” is captivating. The perceptive viewer will notice how frequently personal emblems, coat of arms or depictions of saints favored by their patrons appear in the manuscripts. Decorative schemes, highlighted by brilliant color and enhanced by gold leaf, attest to the refinement demanded by wealthy clients. A display case contains materials involved in the processes of creating these works, beginning with line drawings on parchment that served as a guide for the application of the tempera paint ground from mineral and earth pigments that fleshed out the decorative schemes. Major characters such as Christ or the Virgin Mary were literally given the center of interest, underscored by their generous size and accents of gold leaf. The illusion of depth of space begins to appear in a mid-15th century Pentecost scene by Girolamo de Cremona, an early sign of the move away from hieratical decorative tendencies and towards a more realistic depiction of subject matter that will accompany the preference for oil paint already in use in Belgium by artists such as Jan van Eyck (J. Paul Getty Museum, West Los Angeles).

Diane Calder

 

 

John Olson, “Rock promoter Bill Graham onstage before the final concert at Fillmore East,” 1970, photograph from the LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, is currently on view at Skirball Cultural Center.

 

 

One feels immediately engaged when entering the traveling exhibition “Bill Graham and The Rock & Roll Revolution.” One can hear, among other tunes, Janis Joplin’s version of “Summertime” while gazing at photographs of the young and orphaned Bill Graham (his mother Frieda Grajonca was murdered at Auschwitz) as he’s escaping the Nazis on the S.S. Serpa Pinto in 1941 at age ten. The retrospective consists of about 400 objects of the 1960s psychedelic era and the 1970s and 80s. Just to name a few, there are Joplin's tambourine and microphone from a Fillmore East show in New York; a fragment of a Fender Stratocaster smashed by Jimi Hendrix during his performance at Royal Albert Hall in 1969; fan mail; an interview with boyhood friend Ralph Moritz; iconic Fillmore concert posters; life performance and backstage photos of some of the numerous renowned Rock & Roll musicians who performed at Winterland, the Fillmore and Live Aid. Not to mention Graham’s melted telephone, menorah and eyeglasses, the result of the arson case of 1985, where his San Francisco offices were blown up after he tried to prevent President Reagan from visiting the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, where thousands of young SS officers were interred. The music permeating the exhibit emanates from a hidden corner at the far end of the galleries, which one arrives at only by passing by all these artifacts. It feels like you are edging yourself through a crowd to see one of your idols on stage or on screen. But rather than a live concert, here we get the “The Joshua Light Show,” realized in 1967 by Joshua White, which served as a backdrop to many Graham-produced shows (Skirball Cultural Center, West Los Angeles).

SK

 

 

Ehren Tool, “Veteran Tribute Cups,” is currently on view at American Jewish University.

 

 

Even though the works of artists Jim Cohen, Thomas Dang, Joan Pahoyo, Ehren Tool and Dave Fox — currently exhibited together in “Service: Military, Arts & Transformation” — are dissimilar regarding material and aesthetics, they are equally the creative expressions of people who experienced war or served in the military and whose work attests to art’s transformative power. In several works one senses how trauma lingers and emerges from time to time. For example, in a drawing by Dave Fox (accentuated with a brown paint added via computer) there is the image of three men sitting at a dinner table. One appears to be Adolph Hitler, the second Heinrich Himmler and the third Simon Wiesenthal. The Nazi hunter peacefully shares a meal with two of the War’s worst perpetrators. The gathering is bizarre and comical (since we know this never happened), suggesting that peace, including inner peace, has its limits.  In Joan Pahoyo’s photograph of a veteran’s cemetery in San Diego we see numerous tombstones lined up in front of a low cemetery wall, partly covered by the pattern of the shadow cast by a tree. In the photo’s background San Diego’s skyline rises from behind the wall, as if we were looking at life from the perspective of cemetery’s dead inhabitants. The exhibit also features some  of the 16,000 ceramic cups Ehren Tool has made over the years, a yad created by Jim Cohen, an installation by Thomas Dang, as well as artworks — made in the Artist-in-Residence program at New Directions for Veterans, Los Angeles — ranging from photographs of nature to framed letters by soldiers (American Jewish University, Platt/Borstein Galleries, West Los Angeles).

SK

 

 

Mark Grotjahn, “Untitled (Indian #5 Face 45.50),” 2014, oil on cardboard mounted on linen, 50 3/8 x 40 1/4”, is currently on view at Blum & Poe.

 

 

A selection of fifteen new "face" paintings by Mark Grotjahn are expressive abstractions made by dragging a palette knife across dense layers of oil paint. These new works are denser than previous paintings in which colored striations emanated from a central point. In these works the markings seem to emanate from a central core rather than a point. Emerging from the dark background are striations of brighter colors — hues of red, yellow, orange and green. The shapes that are buried in these layers of paint are suggestive of facial anatomy. Although the paintings read as faces they also resemble abstracted plants whose leaves intersect a vertical shaft that bisects the paintings. The works leave little uncovered and no room for the eye to rest. They are are energetic and aggressive, reinforcing the fact that Grotjahn's work is more about process and texture than any content we can infer from what is represented (Blum & Poe Gallery, Culver City).

JZ

 

 

Luke Barber-Smith, “Trump Plaza (1),” 2014, framed chromogenic print face-mounted to Plexiglas, 16 x 20 x 1.5”, is currently on view at Loudhailer.

 

 

Luke Barber-Smith's enigmatic images are photographs of casinos in Atlantic City. The five photographs, each in a different size and in a different color frame are ghost-like presences devoid of people or context. The original photographs of these buildings have been digitally manipulated to leave almost imperceptible structures — transparent and empty entities — that contradict the stereotypical depiction of a casino — places associated with crowds and noise. The images are ambiguous, yet their aura imbues them with authority. Seen as a group the images become a study of the power of architecture as a meditation on form, space and structure (Loudhailer Gallery, Culver City).

JZ

 

 

Louisa Davis Minot, “Niagara Falls,” 1818, oil on linen, is currently on view at LACMA.

 

 

"Nature and the American Vision: the Hudson River School" presents paintings rarely seen in Southern California, culled as they are from the New York Historical Society’s collection of 19th century masterpieces. These 45 large works present nature in all of her majesty. The term, “Hudson River School,” while initially referring to landscapes in proximity to New York State’s magnificent Hudson River, came to include a broader geographical range, often including scenes in the American west. Underlying influences of these paintings include untouched-by-technology American landscapes during the middle of the 19th century — an idealized version of our country even back then — and European Romanticism from the earlier part of that century.

 

Nearly all of these scenes encompass broad vistas, fertile land and light that is so luminous as to be spiritual. Included in this exhibition is John Frederick Kensett’s “View from Cozzens’ Hotel” (1863),  a vision of the famous river dotted with boats, fertile farmland alongside it and broad mountain ranges in the background. Thomas Cole’s “The Catskills and Lake George (1845) shows a stream within a forest, the leaves of the trees turning orange, while orange-tinged clouds hover overhead. Martin Johnson Heade’s “Study of an Orchid” (1872) is a close-up of the exotic flower against forestland and a waterfall, with jagged mountains in the distance. Here also is Thomas Hill’s classic scene, “View of the Yosemite Valley, in California” (1865). One of the most dramatic paintings here is Louisa Davis Minot’s “Niagara Falls” (1818), a broad depiction of the Falls’ raging white waters against a darkened sky during a threatening storm. This awe-inspiring painting presents the power of and respect for nature as incisively as anything to be seen here.

 

In the sixteenth century, when emperor Hideyoshi engaged the spartan Sen no Rikyu as tea master, the authentic Japanese tea ceremony embraced its evolution into a unique aesthetic experience, integrating the spirit of Zen with the rough, natural worship of the imperfect. Sen no Rikyu eschewed the jade-like perfection of Chinese celadons, favoring instead the rough-textured, irregular peasant ware produced by the originator of raku, the tile maker Chōjirō (1516-92), known as Raku. The irregular glaze, shape and decoration of raku, enabled by it’s sandy clay composition which tolerated scorching and quick cooling without cracking, echoed the natural harmony of the tranquil Japanese garden and tea house. Fifteen generations of Chōjirō’s family have continued the raku tradition. On display in an unusually disbursed display, “Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl” consists of nearly 100 examples of raku tea ceremony utensils, primarily tea bowls, including examples from each of the 15 generations of the Raku family (Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA], Miracle Mile).

Liz Goldner / Diane Calder

 

 

Betty Woodman, Pillow Pitcher, glazed ceramic, ca. 1980, is currently on view at AMOCA.

 

 

"Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future:  AMOCA'S 10th Anniversary” celebrates the occasion with a dazzling highlights show, culled mostly from its growing collection by guest curator Jo Lauria. AMOCA founder David Armstrong is to be singled out for this achievement — just to think, it all grew out of his discovery of ceramics in college! There's an understandable emphasis on West Coast pottery here. It’s not just blind boosterism, it's because many innovations and developments happened here (think Peter Voulkos, John Mason, Ken Price). That said, the show includes many other, widely recognized exemplars of ceramics as art, including work by two instrumental in reviving studio ceramics in the first part of the 20th century, Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach — based in Japan and in Japan/Britain, respectively. Leach's simple pitcher and bottle in this show reflect his emphasis on utilitarianism and a spare aesthetic. Compare that to the subsequent and continuing trend of increasing decoration and showmanship, such as the vessels of LA-based artist Ralph Bacerra. He applied layers and layers of glaze with precision, producing dazzling geometries, sometimes with metallic glazes. His work often seems a rousing response to can-you-top-this challenges. Still others like Patti Warashina use clay to make large figurative sculpture, while Joan Takayama-Ogawa and Porntip Sangvanich — both students of Bacerra — continue to transform the ordinary object into the fantastical. The West Coast welcomed and became home to European emigrés such as Gertrud and Otto Natzler, represented here by signature bowls. It also encouraged native talents, such as Laura Andreson, who began in ceramics as a self-taught artist, then later refined her craft under the eye of Gertrud Natzler and others. Andreson produced not only elegant pots, but led research into clays and glazes as a faculty member at UCLA for four decades. She once observed in an L.A. Times interview, "Ceramics is a disease, and I've given it to so many students" (American Museum of Ceramic Art [AMOCA], Pomona).

SC

 

 

xtine burrough, from “Mediations of Digital Labor,” is currently on view at CSUF Grand Central Art Center.

 

 

Media artist xtine burrough’s installation, “Mediations on Digital Labor” drops us very gently into the brave new world of labor detached from the office. We enter by walking across a floor covered in large blocks of carefully transcribed, fragmented text — written in chalk. Dusting away letters and words as we walk through, we arrive at a video monitor, which informs us this piece was completed by the artist, who employed more than 50 Amazon.com MTurk workers, called Turkers. Earning rewards paid onto Amazon.com gift cards, burrough offered those who chose to rest from physical labor for up to five minutes in order to accept her short-term employment offer of 25 cents. She then had them describe their experience in 10-100 words. Merging the idea of mediation and meditation on the subject of hidden laborers, the artist then posted another “human intelligence task,” or “hit," on MTurk asking for a 10 second video of the worker chanting the word “OM,” for which she paid 75 cents. The 30 detached, disembodied responses she received are each individually stored on jump drives that form two winding beige lines running across the gallery walls. Notes inform us that some of the videos have images; most, however, conceal the worker’s identity. If burrough’s use of crowdsourced labor is essentially benign, “Meditations on Digital Labor" does raise questions about the economic justice and psychological toll of this kind of labor with a visitor sign-up sheet. Asked to willingly participate for no compensation by resting on the gallery floor, chanting and adding personal ruminations with the supplied chalk, she summons questions about why people choose to do so. In this context we think not only about artists’ often unpaid labor, but also a global economy where limited opportunities for full employment to often unite American and Third World workers in accepting inadequate compensation for their labor (CSUF Grand Central Art Center, Orange County).

Suvan Geer

 

 

El Anatsui, “Ink Splash,” 2010, aluminum and copper wire, 119 x 124”, is currently on view at. Photo: Andrew McAllister, courtesy the Akron Art Museum.

 

 

El Anatsui is an African artist who shares time between his childhood home in Ghana and Nigeria. He is a mature artist whose artistic sensibility can be traced to the 1960’s and 70’s, when painters, sculptors and installation artists experimented with what had previously been regarded as non-art materials. The artist takes this aesthetic ethos about as far as possible, working with a combination of thousands of liquor bottle labels, bottle caps, wire ties and round tin can tops that are wire stitched, then fastened together with copper wire. The sheer massive size of these textile-like wall works make them immersive. Though the backstory of the work speaks of the cultural, economic, and social issues of colonialism, globalism, waste and consumerism, we are mostly caught up in the works' sheer visceral presence. Together with their size, shimmering and flowing patterns of gold, silver, red, blue and brown colors weave through each piece. There is also a series of oversized "Wastepaper Bags" (five to eight feet, made of aluminum and newspaper) that speak to the problem of waste recycling. Two additional rooms are devoted to El Anatsui’s drawings and wooden wall reliefs with metal and paint. The artist carves and scorches with chainsaws and routers to gouge, torch and mark the many previously used wooden slats. These make reference to contemporary abstract visual systems of communication, as well as to the ancestry of the African people. Though complex in their compositional elements, there is a particular directness and raw simplicity in these wood reliefs that is missing in the massive wall tapestries. It is interesting to note that these massive works are created with the help of about thirty assistants. When they are hung in the various museums and other venues in which they are exhibited, the installers are free to manipulate these cloth-like metal works and hang them as they desire. This ‘global collaboration’ is entirely consistent with the underlying spirit of his work (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown San Diego).

Cathy Breslaw

 

 

Kahlil Joseph, still from the film “m.A.A.d.,” 2014, photography by Chayse Irvin, is currently on view at MOCA Grand Avenue.

 

 

Kahlil Joseph’s double-screen video projection “m.A.A.d” grew out of a music video he was working on for Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar that renders the mundane absolutely mesmerizing. Set to Lamar’s music and featuring some of his 1992 home videos, the work is a panorama of life in the infamous Los Angeles neighborhood. There are quotidian scenes of barbershops, teenagers sunning themselves at the pool, and babies sleeping while parents laugh and joke outside. There are also darker moments — shots are fired, gangs engage in violence, we visit the interior of a morgue and men hang upside down like bats from streetlights. The fraught legacies of the Rodney King beating and riots lurk in the penumbras of the film. The concluding aerial shots of Los Angeles freeways allude to media coverage of urban unrest as well as conjuring up the sense of surveillance. However, the film isn’t bleak; all manner of emotion and experience are on display here. The most memorable shot is of a young man galloping down a dark street on a horse. It’s an improbable moment, a glorious and cathartic metaphor for freedom and transcendence (MOCA Grand Avenue, Downtown).

Kristen Osborne-Bartucca

 

 

Ed Atkins, still from “Even Pricks,” 2013, single-channel 16:10 HD projections with 5.1 surround sound, 8 minutes.

 

 

"Even Pricks," an eight-minute video by Ed Atkins that affronts in various ways, concludes the three-part series titled "This Is The End," which began way back in January with Tommy Hartung's "THE BIBLE." The affronts include movie trailer-esque graphics of near non-sequiturs, along with booming stereo reverberations (prototypical movie trailer) incited by nothing in particular aside from quoting that trope. There's a creepy CGI chimpanzee, a hazy apparition who incorporates the monologue of the otherwise unseen English narrator, and elsewhere the video effects are equally virtuosic. There’s a sequence involving various body parts that quickly brings to mind the work of the sculptor Ron Mueck, only the arm here — with its thumb stuck out — is able to spin around ceaselessly, unburdened by human limitations. Countering that clichéd trailer soundtrack, meanwhile, is a persistently percussive and literally hand-made hand clap, channeling a far older-school video trope born out of the legacies of beat poetry and performance art. It's intriguing watching Atkins attempt to harness the expansiveness of his CGI toolbox with the odd vintage-graphics flourish and the slower paced, poetic pseudo-longings of the narrator. But "Even Pricks" doesn't ultimately go anywhere, and as an eight-minute loop it's particularly loopy. If there's any connection to the dystopian and/or apocalyptic tone of "This Is the End," it's more of the purgatorial, trapped-in-the-now variety (The Hammer Museum, West Los Angeles).

MS