Critics’ Picks

Frances Stark, From therealstarkiller #429, 2014, archival inkjet print, 7 x 7 x 1".

Los Angeles

Frances Stark

Marc Foxx Gallery
6150 Wilshire Boulevard
May 17–June 28

A white Chevy Suburban slips under a big, green freeway sign for MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR BLVD in the photograph From therealstarkiller #1039 (all works 2014); nearby hang square shots of Dr. Dre, a painting of rocks and surf, a vaginal succulent. The nearly thirty photos from Frances Stark’s Instagram feed posted to Marc Foxx’s walls crackle with quips about race, art, motherhood, Southern California. The artist set these topics to the music of DJ Quik in her 2013 video installation Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater, which is here represented by images of BJAM’s central mural, a perspectival chess board that suggests an art-historical sidewalk memorial, complete with sixteenth-century Mary Magdalenes, photos of murdered rappers, and a crowning baby. Elsewhere, a number of collages point to Stark herself as a famous artist, tenured academic, and SWF. Godforsaken, After Jacob Lawrence consists of a silhouetted hand indicating the word INJUSTICE beneath a tear-out of a Lawrence painting; in The Flat Made Thing, Memento Mori, the titular phrases caption a photo of spilled paint and sketch of a MacBook dribbled with black and white, respectively.

The dry grind of an art career underpins this study in not giving a fuck—an attitude, to a degree, which must be learned. In From therealstarkiller #848 (“regram” from @safecrackers), the words DROP OUT OF ART SCHOOL fill the back of a hoodie. This is not appropriation per se but forwarding, passing the message along. But this too implies a kind of apprehension, an “I get it.” Yet Stark's method is so discursive, so subjective, so like a cascading and nonjudgmental feed, that it’s hard to identify any specific claims—only associations, only interests, only references. Instead, the show rests on Stark’s fascination—not with a specific subculture, but with her own fascination—diffusing the taboo of exploitation through the artist's narcissism.