Joshua Decter

  • Jim Hodges

    Pushing daintiness to the point where it becomes strangely unsettling, Jim Hodges makes work that produces “meaning” in the form of disconnected clues. The ephemeral, somewhat ambiguous works assembled here under the title “Yes” flirt with narrative coherence and concrete, physical presence, without placing pressure on the viewer to construct a signifying chain. Unlike a number of young contemporary artists who have taken to narrative-laden visual poetics with a self-conscious relationship to history and memory (Kathleen Schimmert comes to mind), Hodges constructs a symbolic economy that deflects

  • Gary Hill

    What does it mean to be transfixed by your own body? Gary Hill may not have the answer, but Hand Heard, 1995–96, his startling recent installation comprising five large-scale projections in an octagonal room, suggested he’s been exploring the question. Each projected image depicted a person engaged in the rather mundane activity of scrutinizing his or her own palm. Hill’s construction was at once banal and poetic, even disturbing, and the longer you watched these figures stare endlessly into their hands, the more unnerved you became. What exactly were these people doing? And why were Hill’s

  • Catherine Opie

    While Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Opie is best known for her “straight” portraits of decidedly nonstraight, tattooed and scarified, leather gear–equipped men and women, in this show we are presented with a less familiar, but not entirely inconsistent, side of her photographic practice: large-scale, richly coloristic “portraits” of Beverly Hills houses, and diminutively scaled, exquisitely gray-toned platinum prints showing Los Angeles freeways. If, in her figurative works, Opie presents the body’s surface (skin, decoration, style of haircut) as a map on or through which distinctions of

  • Matthew McCaslin

    If the natural world seems to have been eaten alive by media culture, Matthew McCaslin would like us to consider the possibility of reclaiming a lost “sublime” experience of nature through video- or television-based technologies. Engineering a return of the repressed, McCaslin gives nature symbolic redemption as the new “sublime” experience of visual simulation by irresistibly dovetailing rank organicism and lush spectacle.

    In an earlier installation, Bloomer, 1995, McCaslin used time-lapse photography to record the blossoming of flowers, then accelerated the footage to an unnatural velocity,

  • Sean Landers

    Ever the showman, Sean Landers served up a ribald homage in his recent West Coast show to—of all people—William Hogarth. What, one asks, is Landers, the self-proclaimed cultural neophyte who gave dilettantism a good name, doing evoking an artist who is anything but the flavor-of-the-month?

    Whatever the reason, Landers is definitely not turning to the past to satisfy a morbid desire for art-historical excavation. On the contrary, Landers’ gutsy, jocular, and ultimately lyrical interplay of paintings, video, and sculptures based on Hogarth’s A Midnight Modern Conversation, 1773, represents a symbolic

  • Liisa Roberts

    Gracefully deferring our desire for instant esthetic gratification, Liisa Roberts’ installation, betraying a portrait, 1995, was designed to do seemingly anything but happen all at once. Roberts’ artistic statement emerged slowly over the course of an entire afternoon. Arriving at the gallery at a particular time guaranteed a glimpse of only a fragment of the whole “work”—undoubtedly the experience of most visitors. Though the “work” was always present, it was also in a state of partial withdrawal, unwilling to emerge from a condition of virtual opacity until a particular hour of the day triggered

  • Tom Burr

    Tom Burr would like us to consider how the beginnings of urban renewal in Times Square have produced a corresponding ideological realignment. His recent installation 42nd Street Structures, 1995, suggests that there is a rather complex yet often overlooked historical/formal connection between the sex industry and the architectural structures designed to house it. Burr plays texts—loaded with detailed descriptions of various edifices (including their condensed histories)—off of variously scaled, quasi-architectural models of existing buildings and public spaces. All the information is there,

  • Tim Hawkinson

    Los Angeles–based Tim Hawkinson may well be on his way to becoming a true crowd pleaser. A jack-of-all-trades populist who carries a torch for the dovetailing of Surrealism, AbEx assemblage, and proto-Conceptualism that characterizes the work of such artists as Jonathan Borofsky and West Coast precursors Bruce Conner, Ed Kienholz, and the early Bruce Nauman, Hawkinson’s presentation is a retrospective-like selection of 64 works from 1991 to the present that may gain him a reputation as one of the hardest-working artists around. A veritable art salad—a swap meet where esthetic pluralism is the

  • “The Age of Anxiety”

    Flying fiberglass space-age animal robots, a pink parakeet the size of an elephant, wandering ants that make art, a “fake” money-exchange bureau: all these were found in “The Age of Anxiety,” an exhibition of recent work by young Japanese artists. Curated by Louise Dompierre, the show indicated that these artists are in some sense like other cosmopolitan artists, whether from East or West: they are endeavoring to articulate a language that is as responsive to “indigenous” cultural experiences as it is to the experience of “outside” cultures, even when it is difficult to distinguish between the

  • Sam Samore

    Fashion magazines are notorious breeding grounds for fantasy, often of the erotic sort. While it’s unclear whether Sam Samore hopes to evoke this kind of eroticism in his recent series of photographs, this much seems certain: he digs female models. Though Samore’s horizontally oriented series of large black and white prints is entitled “Allegories of Beauty (Incomplete),” 1995, it is difficult to locate anything here beyond the run-of-the-mill permutations of beauty that can be found in any glossy. Perhaps this is the point: maybe Samore just wants to make art that looks and acts like fashion

  • Franz Ackermann

    Where the hell is Franz Ackermann anyway? This is the question that inevitably arises when viewing the work of this Berlin–based artist who wanders from one geographic location or cultural situation to the next, looking for new experiences, and maybe even a little meaning. If Ackermann belongs anywhere, however, it may well be in one of his small, almost hallucinatory “Mental Map” paintings, 1994–95.

    Living life in the form of a continuous trip, with requisite stopovers in his native Germany, Ackermann seems to have found a degree of romance in the notion of world citizenship. In connection with

  • Lincoln Tobier

    Two concurrent projects by the same artist, one aspiration: to reopen the discussion about the relationship between visual art and the “public” sphere. Lincoln Tobier’s Studies for: (It all comes together in) Ruckus L.A., 1995, at Pat Hearn, and Mini-A.M., 1995, at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, represent the most recent articulations of Tobier’s effort to establish new connections between “artistic activity” and diverse sociocultural arenas. These projects may suggest that Tobier subscribes to a canonized set of principles about socially engaged artmaking. However, given that failure is built into