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“Escape Attempts”

Shulamit Nazarian
616 N. La Brea Avenue
February 18, 2017–April 8, 2017

Carmen Argote, Folding Structures (pool), 2016, papier-mâché, paint, acrylic plastic, dimensions variable.

The 1973 Lucy Lippard essay from which this show takes its title offers an account of a certain slice of Conceptualism within the political ferment of New York in the 1960s. For Lippard, Minimalism served as an important foil for the doings of a group of artists who essentially sought to do “more with less.” The same is true for this group exhibition, which is not so much a counter to Minimalism as a reorientation of some of its key strategies—something that artists have been doing since that essay, perhaps most memorably Kirsten Justesen in her Sculpture II, 1968, which pictured a woman’s body inside a cube.

Many of the works here riff on canonical Minimalist forms. Naama Tsabar’s Work on Felt (Variation 9 & 10) Bordeaux and Black (Diptych), 2016, transforms large pieces of industrial felt (still closely associated with a node of Robert Morris’s production in the 1960s and 1970s) into single-string instruments. Because of the physicality of the sculptures, they activate the whole body of the person who plays them, invoking dance alongside sound. Some works directly address political conditions of labor, gender, and visibility, echoing the self-transformation Lippard describes in her original text. Carmen Argote’s four “Folding Structures,” 2016, are sculptures that reference, in form and dimension, Laundromat folding aides, but also look like distant cousins of Lygia Clark’s “Bichos” (Beasts), 1960–66, while Cindy Hinant’s “Makeup Paintings,” 2011, are abstract meditations on the accouterments and effects of whiteness. Together these artists continue a line of thought regarding the shape of art’s history.

Andy Campbell