Catherine Taft

  • View of “Scott Benzel,” 2011. Foreground: Counterfeit Nike “Heaven’s Gate” SB Dunks, 2011. Background: Original posters for The Trip (1967) with original stickers, 2011.

    Scott Benzel

    On a boxy monitor in an upstairs gallery at Human Resources—a young Chinatown space dedicated to performance and nontraditional exhibitions—footage from a 1969 TV show played in a perpetual time-coded loop: Beach Boy Dennis Wilson crooning for the camera, sloe-eyed and benign, his lips falling in and out of sync with three takes of the same song. The piece, 1. The Beach Boys perform “Never Learn Not to Love” live on the Mike Douglas show, 1969; 2.Charles Manson, “Cease to Exist,” 1968; 3. The Beach Boys “Never Learn Not to Love” studio version, 1969 (all works 2011), was one of

  • Elliott Hundley, The Lightning’s Bride (detail), 2011 six panels, wood, sound board, ink-jet print, on Kitakata paper, pins, paper, plastic, magnifying lenses, metal, photographs, wire, found paintings, 8' 3“ x 24' 1 1/4” x 1' 7".

    “Elliott Hundley: The Bacchae”

    Ambitious, dramatic, and earnestly personal, Elliott Hundley’s assemblage-based practice is forged from ancient narratives and contemporary realities, sublimating notorious characters and plotlines into cyclonic images or structures.

    Ambitious, dramatic, and earnestly personal, Elliott Hundley’s assemblage-based practice is forged from ancient narratives and contemporary realities, sublimating notorious characters and plotlines into cyclonic images or structures. “The Bacchae” will feature a dozen works made in the past two years, all drawing from Euripides’s tragedy. Including quasi-figurative sculpture and billboard- size prints, paintings, and collages, this body of work breaks down the revenge story into discrete elements—gendered accoutrements of bacchic ritual are poised like spindly

  • Eduardo Consuegra, Untitled (2%), 2011, framed magazine pages, 24 1/2 x 26 1/2".

    Eduardo Consuegra

    Eduardo Consuegra’s Untitled (2%), 2011, is a tidy combine of two vintage magazines, each opened to an advertisement for food: The larger of the two offers a full spread for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes; the smaller single-page ad that overlays it advertises the Colombian chocolate bar Colombina Muuu. Though the ad copy for each is written in a different language, both campaigns depict a comparably wholesome, Anglo-looking boy roughly twelve years of age holding the product under the calligraphic type of each brand name. The juxtaposition is so effortless that to call the work a collage might be to

  • Left: Collector Amy Phelan with artist Roni Horn. Right: Lance Armstrong with Aspen Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson. (All photos: Billy Farrell)
    diary August 16, 2011

    Horn of Plenty

    FOR A NON-COLLECTING INSTITUTION, the Aspen Art Museum has certainly accumulated a critical mass of donors, fans, and collectors. On August 3, these supporters began their pilgrimage from points across the globe (or from their second homes across town) to the kickoff of the high-altitude museum’s series of annual fundraising events, wineCRUSH, which is hosted each year by patrons Amy and John Phelan. The Phelans’ home is like Aspen itself—a treat for the eyes, an illusory paradigm of style, a dizzying and rousing diversion—but the posh digs belied the attitude of our down-to-earth hosts, who

  • Left: Tall Paul (Gellman), curators Sarvia Jasso and Kathryn Garcia, artist Matt Greene, and Human Resources cofounder Eric Kim. Right: Fine Art Union.
    diary July 06, 2011

    Unconventional Wisdom

    ON THE EVENING of June 24, as lawmakers legalized same-sex marriage in New York, a group of artists and activists on the opposite coast were instigating a less normative (though perhaps no less traditional) celebration of sexuality: the opening night of “Queering Sex,” a weeklong performance and video series at the downtown Los Angeles nonprofit Human Resources. While the event-cum-exhibition didn’t start any fires with the boilerplate press-release “positing” that “queer exists on multiple planes of non-linearity and is beyond hetero and homo-normative distinctions,” the lineup itself comprised

  • View of “Pablo Sigg,” 2011. From left: The Swedenborg Room, 2011; 134 Exhibits, 2009–10.

    Pablo Sigg

    In his 2010 essay “Tuymans, Loyola, Leibniz,” Mexico City–based artist Pablo Sigg describes painter Luc Tuymans’s canvases as involving a “suspension of the surface that is separated from the depth and weight of matter.” The same could read as a description of Sigg’s own Anemic Cinema, 2008, a pivotal work in the younger artist’s solo debut at ltd los angeles. One of seven works on view, Anemic Cinema takes its title from Duchamp’s 1926 film of the same name and uses as its base content footage from the 1973 movie The Exorcist. Digitally dissecting a nine-minute clip wherein two priests purge

  • View of “Merlin Carpenter,” 2011.

    Merlin Carpenter

    On January 30 (coinciding with the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair), Merlin Carpenter opened his second show at Overduin & Kite. The premise was simple: A friend asked the artist for an old painting that Carpenter had made in 1990. In return, Carpenter asked the friend to take the original and make twenty copies (“1990 Repainted 1–20,” 2010), all of which were put on view for the show. The works could be described as a nauseatingly polychromatic antidote to his recent three-year, multivenue project, The Opening, which featured smug phrases (among other markings) scrawled, predominantly in

  • Julian Hoeber, Execution Changes 19 (XS Q1 MJ LC Q2 RMJ LC Q3 MJ LC Q4 LMJ LC), 2011, acrylic and graphite on panel, framed, 62 1/2 x 44 1/2".

    Julian Hoeber

    If the gray-scale chart were given a sculptural physicality, it might well take the form of the nearly twenty-foot-long seating unit that sliced down the center of Blum & Poe’s upstairs gallery, forming Endless Chair, 2010–11, the centerpiece of Julian Hoeber’s recent exhibition. Built from bony slats of bolted-together plywood, this modular bench provided a direct (if less than comfortable) vantage onto the seven large abstract geometric canvases that comprise the artist’s “Execution Changes” series, 2010–. Viewers were permitted to sit on this protracted piece of furniture, prompting one to

  • Seb Patane, Eleventh to the North, 2011, acrylic, ballpoint pen, and colored pencil on canvas, wood, and tape, 90 x 120".

    Seb Patane

    At the heart of Seb Patane’s tight, studied exhibition is its namesake, a hypnotic video titled Year of the Corn, 2011. The time-based composition has a trancelike, vaguely tribal sound component and sets into action the many static expressions visible in the artist’s drawings, paintings, collages, prints, and sculptures elsewhere in the room. Over the course of six minutes, the piece shifts through five distinct movements: a dark silhouette (a head? a landscape?) floating static against a pixelated red sky; two planes of latticework spinning laterally; a strangely ritualistic performance shot

  • Naotaka Hiro, Night and Fog, Tubes on Black Mountain, 2010, still from a digital video, 22 minutes.

    Koki Tanaka and Naotaka Hiro

    Perhaps the single most striking aspect of Koki Tanaka and Naotaka Hiro’s dizzying two-person exhibition was the choreographed sound that swept through the gallery in a protracted clatter: noises that evoked the prepping and chopping of fish, lights switched on and off, dishes broken, rhythmic drumming, repetitive chiming. This percussive orchestration arose from the show’s seven video installations (five by Tanaka and two by Hiro, both projected and screened on monitors) and served as white noise, the hypnotic power of which pulled the viewer into the action of each. The accord between these

  • Left: Trulee Hall and Mike Kelley. Right: A view of Mike Kelley's installation at Gagosian. (All photos: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan)
    diary January 19, 2011

    Open Mike

    “THERE IS A STRANGE DISQUIET,” wrote Dennis Cooper in Mike Kelley’s 1993 catalogue Catholic Tastes, “in looking too long and hard at the face of a druggie. The same goes for the artist, the criminal, the genius.” After Kelley’s opening last week at Gagosian Beverly Hills, I am inclined to add to Cooper’s list the wholesome harem girl, the dour gnome, and Colonel Sanders. There was little that could disquiet the enthusiastic horde that turned out for the event, however, as the faces of Kelley’s latest archetypes, which populate the installations Kandor 10/Extracurricular Activity Projective

  • View of SITE Santa Fe Biennial, 2010.

    SITE Santa Fe Biennial

    That the term stop motion is affixed to a technique for making moving pictures seems something of a contradiction; then again, the animation that results from stitching together still images has become so commonplace that the words read like a familiar trade name. The overlapping realities of this antiquated technology’s concurrent obsolescence and triumphal ubiquity are precisely what animate “The Dissolve,” another term naming a somewhat old-fashioned film technique and now the title of the eighth installment of the SITE Santa Fe Biennial, cocurated by Sarah Lewis and Daniel Belasco.

    “The