Critics’ Picks

Untitled (Turqoise Room #1), 2007, LightJet print, 48 x 60".

Untitled (Turqoise Room #1), 2007, LightJet print, 48 x 60".

San Francisco

Gina Osterloh

[ 2nd floor projects ]
100 Larkin Street James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center, Main Library, 3rd Floor
September 22–November 4, 2007

Gina Osterloh’s serial performances, conducted in simply fabricated paper installations, are frequently staged for the camera. It is an accomplishment that the resultant images have imbued notions of the Surrealist uncanny—that sensation of familiarity mixed with total strangeness—with vigor and renewed creepiness. In this exhibition’s central, repeated image, Osterloh wears a turquoise sweater and jeans in a turquoise room. Posed on all fours, her hands and lower legs seem to sink into the paper floor, and all the while she vomits confetti squares and strips of denim. With her head bent forward and her hair obscuring her face, she is a female ghost out of the Japanese film The Ring. Yet this is purging as party, horror film as ticker-tape parade. Absent are clichéd markers of the abject—real or simulated bodily fluids, for example. Osterloh engages the language of the porous and paroxysmal body in cheerful colors and seemingly innocent materials. In one image, broadly titled Orifice, 2007, an open mouth erupts through a hole in an expanse of pale pink paper; the mouth is filled with small red pom-poms. In another, what appears to be a black spot or stain on the red wall of a womblike paper room proves, on close inspection, to be a black-leotard-clad person crawling into a hole in the wall. Osterloh’s work wants to challenge boundaries between self and environment, especially moments in which such boundaries are in breeched in ways that seem convulsive and inexplicably familiar.