Critics’ Picks

Gina Osterloh, Grid # 6, 2014, archival pigment photographs with UV laminate mounted on colored acrylic panels, 45 3⁄4 x30”.

Los Angeles

Gina Osterloh

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E Washington Blvd.
July 19–August 23

On the opening night of Gina Osterloh’s show, visitors encountered an enigmatic sight: a large, red paper screen supported by a simple wood base. The installation turned out to be a prop for Osterloh’s brief but impactful performance. Clad in a nude leotard, the artist swiftly and determinedly enacted a series of operations that altered the paper, at times striking it with her hand or cutting into it with a utility knife. At the close, viewers were guided to chant “prick, prick, prick, prick” as Osterloh leapt through the paper and landed on the floor. The propulsive power of that act and staccato rhythm of the performance overall functioned as emotional counterweights to the quiet, sublime sensibility of the photographs, installation, and film on view.

A selection of Osterloh’s new photographs depicts hand-drawn grids on paper covering the walls and floors of spaces, their corners perceptible only in subtle shifts in the direction of the lines. Osterloh has papered and then photographed rooms before, often accompanied by a body (either her own or an effigy) clothed in the same pattern as the paper—but the new grid photographs are empty. This vacancy, the wavering quality of her drawn lines, and the uncertain delineation of the borders create indistinct, queasy spaces—the visual equivalent of an unreliable narrator. This body of work hones in on something that Osterloh has explored, if more obliquely, in earlier pieces: how action defines and activates the simultaneously conjoined and distinct space between a body and its surroundings, between self and other.