Critics’ Picks

View of “Blair Saxon-Hill: To No Ending Except Ourselves,” 2016.

Los Angeles

Blair Saxon-Hill

JOAN
1206 South Maple Avenue Suite 715
December 3 - January 29

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 placing them on the walls––rather than, say, on the Soap Box (all works 2014–16) installed in the center of the gallery––the artist conflates the scenery with the characters. These pieces haunt the space, serving as a backdrop to the suggestion of discourse that happens at the center, on the floor, with no divide.

The theater has long been a space for the masses to convene and see bodies perform circumstances without the gravity of the real. To be a spectator among other spectators observing the same reflection of abstract concepts is a powerful and uniting feeling. And, in times of trouble, that is the most craved feeling: being together. By envisioning a space for her characters to both exist for and watch over visitors, Saxon-Hill’s show provides a reverence for the commons.