Meg Whiteford

  • picks August 10, 2018

    Lara Nasser

    The big three Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—don’t allow much in the way of humor. Lara Nasser’s exhibition “Half Ass” shrugs off the restriction. Her clumsy, kinky, and tablet-size paintings, with laconic titles such as Tic and Lump (all works 2018), commingle religious figures and cum shots from homemade Muslim porn films, among other things. The artist’s frequently dead-eyed subjects feel like the kinds of holy folk certain people find in sundry foodstuffs: the Virgin Mary in a potato chip, for instance, or Christ’s visage on toast. Nasser extracts the silly from the

  • picks February 26, 2018

    Johanna Breiding

    Johanna Breiding’s exhibition begins with an account of the last (documented) persecuted witch in Europe, Anna Göldi. Unlike the majority of her rumored coven, Göldi met her fate at the chopping block, in 1782, rather than the gallows—cutting her short at the neck. Here, the artist provides a historical revision, a consideration of similarly oppressed peoples. The focal piece is Breiding and Shoghig Halajian’s THE REBEL BODY, 2018, a video documenting their pursuit of Göldi through the springtime snowmelt of Switzerland, and their meeting with Silvia Federici, the author of Caliban and the Witch

  • picks January 25, 2018

    Alyse Emdur

    The works in Alyse Emdur’s exhibition are a tiling of Pop art textiles and bold graphics, with most from a series titled “Skunks and Flowers,” 2017–18. The abundance of india ink and matte acrylic-based gouache drawings plastered on the walls elicits comparisons to both the patterns of a groovy 1960s American girl’s outfits and the illustrative satire of French cartoonists like Tomi Ungerer. What we witness here is redolent of a teenager’s self-consciously decorated bedroom, papered over with magazine clippings and political posters. Peppered throughout are texts of the kind that a housebound

  • picks November 16, 2017

    Elisabeth Wild

    The works shown here from Elisabeth Wild’s ongoing “Fantasías” series, all untitled and 2017, are collaged abstractions of cityscapes, skyscrapers, bridges, and still lifes. Each is no larger than one of the magazine pages from which she most likely gathered her material. Advertisements are cut and rearranged into geometric forms that negate their former capitalist purposes, then carefully overlaid with images of antiquated technologies, including iPods, CD-ROMs, telephone booths, and ballpoint pens. The self-contained compositions of the artist’s works bring to mind the Maschinenmensch of Fritz

  • picks October 02, 2017

    Sowon Kwon

    Sowon Kwon’s current exhibition highlights the importance of punctuation in successful communication. For example: the comma, that curlicue of the sentence, was invented to accommodate written language to the process of reading out loud. The mark heralds a caesura while simultaneously conjoining words and clauses; such are the hairline semiotics of this artist’s work.

    From Coffee Table and Escritoire (after Godwin), 1994, a relief-sculpture re-creation of an “Anglo-Japanese” design by Edward William Godwin, to Fiction, 2017, a relief covered in false eyelashes, to a collection of artist’s books,

  • picks June 13, 2017

    Bernadette Corporation

    The three most common ways to serve in beer pong are the arc, the fastball, and the bounce shot. While the arc is the most efficient at clean entry, the fastball (or kamikaze shot) is an effective technique for wiping out multiple cups at a time, if the house rules that a fallen one be cleared from the table. However, any pro of the game will tell you that no matter the technique, beer pong is a level playing field, as disorderly arrangements of drinks can be repositioned, and experts and rookies alike are at an inebriated disadvantage.

    Bernadette Corporation’s exhibition “The Gay Signs” (a

  • picks May 31, 2017

    Young Joon Kwak

    In ancient Greece, the gods were worshipped via heaps of rocks left on the sides of roads. These rocks were anointed with oil and adorned with wreaths to act as wards against evil. Perhaps desiring a hint of the human in their divine icons, the Greeks transformed these piles into polished blocks of stones, topped with carved heads and accessorized with male and/or female genitals, a gender stuck to an ambiguous base. They called this new form Herma, Greek for “rock.” It is from this tradition that Young Joon Kwak’s multimedia exhibition springs forth.

    Working in plaster, resin, and metal, rather

  • picks March 21, 2017

    “I can call this progress to halt”

    What is the role of the visual in political turmoil—to be propaganda, or a history lesson? Is it an intermediary between perpetrator and victim, or does it serve as a reminder of the past persisting in the present? The videos, images, installations, performances, and discussions that make up “I can call this progress to halt” seem to argue that there has been movement but no certain advancement—steps taken, but in indeterminable directions. Georgia Sagri’s installation Sunday Stroll, 2016, smells of hot glue, eliciting a nostalgia that contrasts with the pictures of violence loosely placed on

  • picks January 09, 2017

    Blair Saxon-Hill

    To be common is to be many things: popular or plentiful, lowbrow or uncivilized, a thing which two or more people can share, an icebreaker. In Blair Saxon-Hill’s exhibition, visitors are welcomed by a theatrical gathering of characters just slightly larger than the average human and constructed from proletariat materials, such as cardboard, clay, sticks, and borrowed wares including umbrellas and handbags. They float on the walls in dialogue or as if they were a choir. They are at once harlequins, puppets with no strings, and DIY constructions of fragmented bodies. By flattening her figures and

  • picks January 05, 2017

    “We the People”

    Usually a group show leaves one struggling for a narrative thread, but the humps, lumps, bumps, butts, dicks, and boobs that make up the work in “We the People” are right at home in the realm of plotless exhibitions. A benefit for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the show gathers work made during the recent election cycle: a period of political uncertainty, disturbing truths, and upheaval. The immediacy makes for a collection of very raw and honest work that portrays a commitment to making art for a worthy cause. Yet there is one common theme: exposing the vulnerable parts of

  • picks October 24, 2016

    Harry Dodge

    A cyborg, a poodle, and an unassembled IKEA bookshelf walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Let me guess, lost the instructions?” The cyborg says, “This DIY mess is bullshit. Can’t we come up with a more efficient and tidy manner in which to assemble and install our basic needs—our medicine cabinets, our midcentury knock-off nightstands, our interchangeable shelving units?” The poodle says, “I barely defecate anymore. And when I do, my excrement smells like peaches and suntan lotion. I’ve also perfected my haircut to be both aero- and aqua-dynamic.” The IKEA bookshelf says, “Yes, we have lost

  • picks September 29, 2016

    Stanya Kahn

    The Earth is round: a hopeful curve, a just-around-the-corner, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, what-goes-around-comes-around sort of shape. Loops, circles, and patterns attempt to assuage the panic of “Is this all there is? This rude heap? This heavy lump?” After too many turns, however, the wheel becomes a self-fulfilling and nauseating prophecy. The rub then is the anticipation of corners. When you’re hanging upside down, the randomness of Earth outstretched indefinitely begins to feel more comfortable.

    The humor and immediacy of Stanya Kahn’s exhibition “Heatstroke” mimics this absurdity, the

  • picks August 03, 2016

    “3 Women”

    As traditions pass through generations, forms and functions change, but what develops is heritage. It may start with learning a skill: weaving, for instance. With time, practice, and technological and cultural advancements, skills can render new imaginings, such as the gauze pillars, phallic paintings on linen, and abstract sculptural totems in this exhibition.

    With work from Lenore Tawney, Tanya Aguiñiga, and Loie Hollowell, this show represents a very specific history and pedigree: the woman weaver. All of these artists inherited a penchant for using fiber to address the body, and are thus here

  • picks June 27, 2016

    Ren Hang

    Moral indecency has long been a way for disaffected bodies to break up an uninhabitable order. The irreverence of youth—an acceptable age for extravagant consumption of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—pairs well with rebellion against censorship, in a raging party that celebrates pleasure as the highest good. In this current exhibition, Ren Hang shows his viewers that when systems fail us, naked revelry can be a revolutionary and very natural act.

    Limber youths of color are the muses for Hang’s revolt. These high-gloss C-prints, so sumptuously produced, linger on humps of asses in RH_001002, 2012,

  • picks May 26, 2016

    Kang Seung Lee

    Kang Seung Lee’s exhibition presents an uncommon library. His is no studied space stacked with hardbound classics—instead, this collection includes perishable papers and precious handmade books, all in editions of one. For this show, Lee reached into the California Institute of the Arts library to excavate monographs, catalogues, and artists’ books featuring women and people of color. The covers, those pages of first impressions, were then photocopied and installed on the gallery wall for Covers (all works 2015), transcribing the underrepresented into a type of space where the canon is simulated

  • picks April 18, 2016

    Catherine Fairbanks

    Two chimneys, Chimney Sculpture 1, 2015–16, and Chimney Sculpture 2, 2016, stand stark in the middle of the room. Hung on a corner wall are two horsehair weavings, Luce’s Fireplace 10 and 12, both 2014, reminiscent of brushes for sweeping ash. Four ceramic and papier-mâché jugs, Jug 1, 2016, and Pitcher Sculpture 4, 5, and 9 (all 2015), are stored in the back. And five embossed drawings on paper—abstractions of lamps, pitchers, and busts—authenticate this show’s sense of shelter.

    In “Two Chimneys,” Catherine Fairbanks’s techniques result in ordinary magic: flour and water can make bread, or in

  • picks March 24, 2016

    Jesse Mockrin

    Jesse Mockrin’s solo exhibition of paintings, “The Progress of Love,” abounds with lissome motifs—a crown of roses, fanciful androgynes, King Charles spaniels, beribboned doves—that compose a gilded time spent meandering the hedges of a leisurely existence. The figures throughout are supple and boneless evocations of Botticellis or genderless Little Lord Fauntleroys indulging in some mischief or superficial pleasure. Mockrin tapers these characters via the canvases’ margins, focusing on hems and décolletage. You know, the feminine details. This oblique placement of her subjects curves the gaze

  • picks January 21, 2016

    Mitra Saboury

    The insula, located in the gap between the temporal lobe and the parietal and frontal lobes of the brain, registers mammalian gut feelings—of nausea, full bladders, and pounding hearts. The insulation of a house creates a barrier between the comfort of the interior and potential intruders such as wind, cold, or noise. In this blacked-out and boarded-up gallery, Los Angeles–based artist Mitra Saboury insulates occupants within “Gut House,” an exhibition of three videos and one photograph. With a background in neuroscience and an interest in fusing the body with built environments, Saboury

  • picks November 25, 2015

    Robert Barry

    In an abandoned church in a neglected neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, Robert Barry summons the ghostly with fifty-one words of white vinyl (all works 2015). The relationship between his works’ open font, with its wide-stroked Century Gothic O’s and subtle widths, and this light-filled Rudolph Schindler–designed modernist architecture creates a sense of expansiveness in a structure of intimate reserve. The words, uninhibited by the oppressive structure of sentences, are thrown to the walls, bending around corners and tipping on their own edges. Are these phrases echoes of the vanished