Critics’ Picks

Jarrett Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough, Django (Opening Scene) (detail), 2005.

Jarrett Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough, Django (Opening Scene) (detail), 2005.

San Francisco

Jarrett Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough / Jacob Hartman

New Langton Arts
1246 Folsom Street
July 6–August 6, 2005

The interior of the distressed wooden-plank structure that is Jarrett Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough's Django Chapel, 2005, seems a lot like that roadside church in Tarantino's Kill Bill. Both are raw, rustic sites of stylized violence and cinematic allusion. Mitchell and Yarbrough's structure functions as a cozy/creepy screening room/gallery (with church benches for seats) showing an extended clip from the 1966 subtitled Italian film Django, a narrative of cartoonish cruelty that's regarded as the first spaghetti Western. Excerpts of the film are recreated in dramatically lit, collaborative mixed-media paintings (acrylic, duct tape, contact paper, blood-red glitter) that hang on the roughhewn walls like stained-glass window panels. The theatrical presentation creates a space in which Western belief systems, as illuminated by track lights and video projector, can be questioned. Jacob Hartman's more oblique musings on the blue screen, that staple film FX tool, call the reliability of vision itself into question. In video and sculptural pieces, he coaches actors to emote against a vibrant but blank seamless backdrop, slips an image of idyllic nature into a grungy studio, and offers various minimalist iterations of the electrified Yves Klein blue. Hartman consciously makes movie magic minus the magic, a confounding impulse that's not without its merits.