Critics’ Picks

Elaine Cameron-Weir, Metaphor, 2016, stainless steel, lead, sand, 9' x 78“ x 27”.

Elaine Cameron-Weir, Metaphor, 2016, stainless steel, lead, sand, 9' x 78“ x 27”.

Los Angeles

Elaine Cameron-Weir

Venus | Los Angeles
601 South Anderson Street
March 12–April 30, 2016

An alchemist has abandoned her laboratory. A long adobe wall serving as a threshold wears licks of neon like lightning contained, along with angled metal arms holding liquid candles and rearview mirrors, large pearly clamshells, and gleaming silver. Concocted from terrazzo tabletops shaped like butterfly wings and the spotless chrome of lab equipment, the stations beyond the wall, including Sentry Tactical Like Prey with Evolutionary Eyes of a Predator on the Wing 2 (all works 2016), hold flickering flames of cooking frankincense—filling the vast rooms with a churchy and ancient aroma. Within the undulating curves of a steel tub filled with sand, its plug pulled and contents leaked, a lead jacket stitched together with wire hangs splayed out for Metaphor. This soft and poisonous garment hovers empty, but the shape of its ghosted wearer remains. Did our alchemist disappear into more ethereal material?

Nearby, five fourteen-foot-long stretches of steel and copper snakeskin hang from the rafters, sandbagged to the ground for the series “Snake Piece,” each scintillating in the cold light. A monster made, or at least flayed. Elaine Cameron-Weir titled her exhibition “snake with sexual interest in own tail,” and through this phrase one can almost imagine the monstrous serpent that might have owned these scales and its mechanical grin with forked tongue teasing its tail as jaws unhinge and swallow. The ouroboros, an occult symbol, appears here and there across disparate spiritual practices and is a fundamental sigil in the history of alchemy. The artist as alchemist is an old trope—both transform base materials into something new—but this artist has left more than a metaphor. The collection of strange sculptures Frankensteins the tempting contrasts of the natural and unnatural into a scenario for an elusive story, its mysteries never really revealed.