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Colter Jacobsen

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | Downtown
1100 and 1001 Kettner Boulevard
October 10, 2014–February 8, 2015

Colter Jacobsen, Bridal Veil Falls [memory drawing], 2007, graphite on found book covers, 11 x 18”.

In Colter Jacobsen’s first museum exhibition, two principal and overlapping strategies are on view, both of which animate memory and its certain loss. The first involves collecting discarded objects, the second, drawing from the artist’s memory. In Bridal Veil Falls [memory drawing], 2007, Jacobsen employs both methods. On found paper, he draws one version of a found photograph while looking at it and a second version from recall. The two are then paired side by side, with the reference-blind drawing watered down in its details neatly referencing the degenerative process of cognitive recollection.

Between the patinaed surfaces, the small and preciously sized dimensions, and the theme of a foregone past, this show unequivocally verges on the nostalgic. But ultimately, the majority of the artist’s works on view—with a few made in collaboration with curator Larry Rinder and the poet Bill Berkson—are just too funky to be sentimental. The types of materials employed evince this, as in Double-sided Record Player, 2011–2014, made from cardboard, dowels, papier-mâché, and a needle, or Lightmill, Windhouse (variations), 2014, an installation of objects taped to a window in the gallery, which incorporates a yellowing newspaper, flayed cardboard, and lemon juice, among other things. Rather than being simply wistful, this exhibition manifests the unromantic and sometimes soiled hallmarks of longing, grasping, collecting, and fading. The title of one of four of Jacobsen’s books on view, The Saddest Joke, 2010, registers that beneath Jacobson’s clever and fanciful studies is a faint grieving for all that is lost.

Carmen Winant