Critics’ Picks

Scott McFarland, Discussing, Michael O'Brian with Artist and Model on his Property, 2005, digital C-print, 40 x 48".

Los Angeles


Thomas Solomon Art Advisory | Bethlehem Baptist Church
4901 Compton Avenue
December 16–January 27

From beautiful photographs of Gordon Matta-Clark’s artfully sliced buildings to Robert Smithson’s Photo-Markers (from Six Stops on a Section), Laurel Hill, New Jersey, 1968, the pictures by the first-rate artists in “Interventions” circumscribe sites and situations that blur fiction and nonfiction. Each work disrupts accepted meanings and our understanding of material verity, coaxing the indeterminate potential from otherwise scripted spaces. Laurie Anderson’s Duet for Door Jam and Violin, 1975, reclaims a familiar space, her interaction with the doorway defining the very essence of the composition. Some of the characters standing in the garden of Scott McFarland’s Discussing, Michael O’Brian with Artist and Model on his Property, 2005, have been digitally added, and the mystery of who is “false” and who is “real” undermines the common notion that photography is a documentary medium. His work, like the others in the show, transcends the basic terms of photography by employing sculptural tactics. Bas Jan Ader’s Untitled (The Elements), 1971/2003, says it best: The artist sits on a rocky crag facing the distant camera. Behind him lies the crashing grandeur of the ocean’s infinite horizon, and in his hands he holds a sign with the word FIRE emblazoned upon it. The contrast of the elements—from the sublime ocean to the constructed signifier Ader bears—accentuates the picturesque setting. Like much of Ader’s work, this piece astounds and moves using romantic visual imagery and a critical awareness of the melodramatic modes of such narratives. The real and the imaginary are inextricably bound at these sites, and the artists’ interventions cut a new entrance (not unlike Matta-Clark) into a vast network of meaning hidden beneath the familiar.