Benjamin Weissman

  • Rita McBride

    For her recent exhibition of rattan sculptures, Rita McBride turned to the sweatshops of the Philippines and had the boys there custom make her a 1990 Toyota Celica GT to scale from this unlikely material. These reeds might smell nice at first, but McBride’s endeavor becomes suspicious upon closer inspection. The artist makes the dubious claim that the workers, who also produced two eight-foot-high nuclear silos for her, were“challenged” by her project. And, even though McBride’s work does venture the point that the seductive appeal of silos as architecture conflicts with a potentially destructive

  • Megan Williams

    The diverse materials and formats evidenced in Megan Williams’ show “Drawn From Memory,” ranging from a 15-foot neoprene rubber doll to a series of small drawings on paper, is less a gratuitous demonstration of versatility than a necessary analogue to the multiple levels of visual language that constitute her reality. Whatever the brain picks up on, including the shuffled data of dreams, is fair game here, and the type of artmaking that results runs counter to more logical, system-oriented conceptual projects. Williams’ work tells complicated, open-ended stories about the condition of being

  • Robbie Conal

    Robbie Conal has made a career creating caricatures of right-wing political and religious figures like Ed Meese and Dan Quayle that look like portraits of Dorian Grey at his most dissipated. Conal’s work is politically correct, as they say, but in the stalest way; it’s smug in its safety, and weak in its critique. Conal takes for granted that every human being’s head is buried in the sand, and presents us with weary generalities. He mouths the platitudes liberals like to hear the same way President Bush charms middlebrow conservatives.

    Conal battles the powers that be by making the bad guys look

  • Bruce Conner

    This miniretrospective of Bruce Conner’s assemblages, paintings, drawings, and “engraving collages” traces a career that began brilliantly but has subsequently trailed off on a foot-dragging note. Throughout the ’60s, Conner turned the scattered remains of broken found objects into some of the most compelling assemblages since Joseph Cornell. In the process Conner exploded Cornell’s modest vignettes, producing a furious, dismembered theater of mummified despair. Wax, doll parts, silk stockings, lace, rubber hose, and assorted detritus were juxtaposed in sinister sexually charged tableaux.


  • Vito Acconci

    In his current exhibition Vito Acconci installed five large-scale sculptures. Two gigantic steel bras each entitled Adaptable Wall Bra (all works 1990), ooze little balls of plaster from their wire mesh surfaces. Inside, the “Z” cups are lined with smooth plaster and fitted with little canvas seats, and a tape plays a recording of a woman breathing alternating with music from a radio station. Dwarfed and intimidated by these gargantuan heavy metal bras, a state of worshipfulness is induced in the viewer. They resemble complicated webby cathedrals towering high above the head and suspended at

  • Markus Raetz

    Confronted with the work of Markus Raetz, one can’t help blinking and rubbing one’s eyes. For twenty years Raetz has explored the act of seeing in what has become an astounding obsession. This makes for a queerly reflexive viewing experience; the subject matter of Raetz’s work is the gaze—the very means by which the work is absorbed.

    A worldview that never goes beyond one’s own eyeballs makes a certain amount of sense; it’s a view that remains true to the receptors that brought the material to the brain in the first place. Raetz draws hands reaching into the head through eye holes or depicts a

  • Alexis Smith

    American mythology is her targeted victim, and Alexis Smith is out to kick butt. From the clunky romantic language in which American hopes and dreams are characteristically writ, to the stereotypes citizens passively adopt as if they were a somnambulant army specializing in misguided love, the entire middle American vernacular is fair game. Smith gives voice to an array of the babbling, perenially cheerful found objects, from the goony dated ashtray and the swizzle stick, to the blown tire, and the forlorn last-place ribbon. Entitled “Eldorado (On the Road Part II),” this is the second installment

  • Raymond Pettibon

    Raymond Pettibon’s 296 unframed drawings and texts take the form of a gigantic mock-up of an illustrated novel. Pushpinned to the walls of two small rooms and stacked five high, the drawings fill up every available inch of the gallery. There are moments of thematic coherence, but for the most part, the organizational logic is elusive. J. Edgar Hoover gets his own corner, as does Joan Crawford, but images of Gumby, fishhooks, light bulbs, and eyeballs intermingle. No sooner do you get your bearings than the rug is pulled out from under.

    Pettibon uses the cartoon style of image making for its

  • Charles Garabedian

    Charles Garabedian has consistently painted some of the freshest, most idiosyncratic and emotionally compelling paintings to come out of Los Angeles. His territory is standard: landscape, still life, abstraction, and the figure, and he has made the most of these modes for 25 straight years. At various times all of these genres have crawled and blurred their way into one another in his pictures. In a painting of a cityscape is a solitary arm, lacking a torso, fitted neatly within the archway of a building. Inside a still life are abstract markings, nonsensical calligraphy, and stonelike frozen


    FLOWERS SPEAK TERSELY, saying Hold strong, be well, I love you, in an emotional instant of regret or of support. They are the mixing of the sexes: masculine/ feminine. Eerie, unforgiving witnesses, flowers speak a stoic language of death—the sick, the bedridden, the dead are all surrounded by plants. Radiant on top and dirty down below.

    1. Angola is leathery, flat, broken, bleeding, vertical, Christlike, somber.

    2. Argentina is cheerful, assertive, prickly baby trumpets, skybound.

    3. Bolivia is maudlin, wilted, seductive, modest, dark, defeated, elegant.

    For the past ten years, Christopher Williams

  • Carol Caroompas

    Carol Caroompas’ recent installation, entitled Fairy Tales, 1989, is a busy and wild amalgamation of heterosexual imagery produced in the classic post-Modern tradition of harmoniously combative renderings. Here we have fake Aztec markings, stick figures, cartoon graphics, and exquisitely rendered anatomical drawings of heads. The effect is elemental, intriguing, and nightmarish. Caroompas’ paintings are like sexual morality plays. Practically every piece has either a vagina or a penis in it; sometimes she uses metaphorical stand-ins (spiders, cherries, narrow bodies of water, versus enormous

  • Erika Rothenberg

    In their seven separate guises, the paintings and sculptures by Erika Rothenberg shown here moan the same infuriating note. It is the bleak, generalized utterance of futility and blame. The title of the show bluntly says it all: “America, the Perfect Country.” This kind of sarcasm elicits an equally taunting response. When Rothenberg’s not scolding her audience for being sexist, superficially altruistic, narrow-minded, ill-informed, and naive about themselves and the people around them, she’s announcing that the American conscience isn’t as spotless as it’s advertised to be. Is an art audience