Critics’ Picks

Glenn Kaino, Safe | Vanish, 2010, found newspapers, Scotch tape, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Los Angeles

Glenn Kaino

Laxart
7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
September 23 - October 30

A direct read of Glenn Kaino’s latest exhibition, an ambitious performance-cum-installation-cum–open studio, points toward a simple correlation between art and magic. A more meandering and interpretive dérive of the exuberant project, which was made over the course of the two years the artist spent studying magic and includes new site-specific works and ongoing projects constructed in the gallery, yields a more resonant and surprising association––the artist as optimist or, more specifically, as conduit for the creative act, a more prosaic kind of magic than that of playing cards and wands.

These and other mainstays of the world of legerdemain are represented in the work, along with a taxidermied goat (à la Rauschenberg) and a glowing portrait of “Baldessarini,” a “conceptual magician.” But Kaino’s references to art and magic are both reverential and tangential. The more pivotal role of the revolving works and interactive performance is to level the playing field—between artist and viewer, dealer and magician, craftsperson and auteur, idol and fan—as well as to expand possibilities for exhibition and interpretation.

On the gallery’s back wall hang two rows of (mostly vintage) newspapers; each has a letter cut from the page and left to hang below the vacated silhouette. The text spells the sentence IN A WORLD THAT IS TRULY UPSIDE DOWN, THE TRUE IS A MOMENT OF THE FALSE. Through news announcements of events gone by—the Kennedy assassination, the premiere of Star Wars—this cutout statement shifts from clever conceptual underpinnings to meditative analysis of the contemporary moment.