Critics’ Picks

Judy Fiskin, Three Funerals and Some Acts of Preservation, 2016, digital video, 15 minutes 13 seconds.

Los Angeles

Judy Fiskin

Richard Telles Fine Art
7380 Beverly Blvd
March 26 - April 23

“Last April,” says Judy Fiskin, “I turned seventy.” Her latest video, Three Funerals and Some Acts of Preservation, 2016, dryly ponders what comes next. Most of Three Funerals’s fifteen minutes follow conservation interns, khaki’d like zookeepers, bathing the Getty Center’s outdoor sculptures. One dusts off, a bit indecently, the nested bust of René Magritte’s La Folie des grandeurs (Delusions of Grandeur), 1967. Another flops a chamois-draped broom across the molar gullies of Henry Moore’s Bronze Form, 1985. The hammered-steel paddles of George Warren Rickey’s Three Squares Gyratory, 1971, tumble around in the jet of a common garden hose. “Although there is some comfort in the thought that my work will outlive me,” Fiskin’s narration continues, “I do know that nothing lasts forever.” In the meantime, such are the indignities of ars longa.

Two of the titular funerals are Michelangelo’s. The first, in Rome, was a public spectacle; the second, actual burial secretly took place in his native Florence. Fiskin paraphrases an account of the latter by Vasari, who noted that the artists and architects lucky enough to wedge a shoulder under the master’s bier bragged of it for the rest of their lives. Today, the Getty, Charon-like, ferries the grandiosities of that monumental age into the ignoble waters of the twenty-first century. Yet how proud is the conservator rinsing Charles Ray’s Boy with Frog, 2009, as if for the grave? The third funeral is Fiskin’s own. She would have her friends sprinkle her ashes in the back of a Landmark Theater—an unknown honor for the usher who will sweep her away with the popcorn. “Then,” says the artist, her voice-over gracing a gloomy shot of the 405 freeway as seen from the Getty’s hilltop, “it will all go on without me.” She almost sounds sorry.