Critics’ Picks

View of “Hayden Dunham: Canary for the Family,” 2018.

View of “Hayden Dunham: Canary for the Family,” 2018.

Los Angeles

Hayden Dunham

Club Pro Los Angeles
1525 South Main Street 3rd floor
January 26–March 4, 2018

A recording of a bird’s song—a canary, presumably—warbles through the gallery’s darkened rooms like a warning of some vaporous danger. It’s no accident that Hayden Dunham’s latest sculptures come off as intentional mishaps. On the landing is a thin, matte spill, untitled (all works 2018), and cracked dry in some places while in others pooling in the joints of the floor. Upstairs, slight LED flashlights illuminate black or dark-blue fluids hardened on black window screens, while other bulbs click on and off in response to flashes from cameras or a flighlight. With slight variations, the artist’s work fixes on the idea, or imitation, of flow—in all its emptied-out, new-age abstraction. In the video Titrate, made with Elizabeth McClellan, slow-moving blue-orange foam trails down a gray staircase as the voice-over talks about the geology of quartz and model fountains. NE: lower den lift :SS and SO: sub mirroring :FT are two porcelain discs fired into draping over sheets of glass. Physically, they are delicate, but visually, they hold firm. Here is leakage on pause.

Each assemblage suggests a novel significance to fairly prosaic stuff: poured rubber, fired clay, and platinum-grade silicone (the kind used to render synthetic flesh). If there’s a threat in the alchemy of these puddles and shards, it’s a vanishingly subtle one. The materials list for a floor-bound work such as the loosely volcanic RD: hole whole hole :ST, for instance, distinguishes between “charcoal” and “activated charcoal.” Like the plastics, antidepressants, and pesticides circulating through our bodies, Dunham’s sculptures flow in a closed system; left to off-gas in the dark, their ambivalent effects are hard to feel.