Critics’ Picks

Untitled Backdrop (Site of Paris Hilton Car Crash, 11/9/05), 2006

Untitled Backdrop (Site of Paris Hilton Car Crash, 11/9/05), 2006


Dwayne Moser

Laura Bartlett Gallery
4 Herald Street
February 17–March 25, 2006

With the sweeping gaze of a nineteenth-century American landscape painting, Dwayne Moser’s Untitled Backdrops, 2006, see the West as a fertile frontier of fantasy and possibility. Likewise, Moser is exacting in his portrayal of particularly pregnant moments of the night and day. However, these backdrops, painted by a team of Warner Brothers professionals, are not inspired by a fanciful sublime; they are instead grounded in the tacky misbehavior of Hollywood celebrities. Each backdrop is still and empty, with visual clues and theatrical lighting that point to the specific sites where Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson argued melodramatically, Eddie Murphy picked up a transvestite prostitute, and Paris Hilton wrecked her Bentley. Moser’s Untitled Pre-Backdrops, 2005, are small-scale photographs that work as “preparatory sketches” for the six-by-eleven-foot acrylic paintings. Repeatedly returning to the same scenes, the method of Moser’s projects accurately imitates the neurotic fervor with which American and British society follows, and fabricates, the lives of these living idols. Exhibiting an obsessive fascination with celebrities’ unscripted entries into the spotlight, Moser, a writing professor in the CalArts film department, invents scripts for each notorious scene. He then types dialogue and action cues on a transparent page, tracing the projected words with graphite on paper for One Minute Screen Time Drawings, 2006. Separating real events from an authentic impetus, ample space is created for visions of a romantic imagination.