Critics’ Picks

Kim Zumpfe, where is this place, i pinch myself?, 2018. Performance view, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA, June 2, 2018. Photo: Lainey Larosa.

Santa Ana

Kim Zumpfe

Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway
May 5–September 9

A few years ago, the cultural critic Roxane Gay argued for the necessity of safe spaces: “When you are marginalized and always unsafe,” she wrote, “your skin thins, leaving your blood and bone exposed. You live at the breaking point.” In her sensitive installation outside the length of a room | OR | diving into the blue sun, 2018, Kim Zumpfe has horizontally bisected a large gallery to create a space that is at once a retreat from the world and an engagement with its potential limits. A subterranean zone is filled with bedrolls and television monitors displaying the same slow-moving blue-tinted solar surface. In one corner she has positioned a teakettle, mugs, and a pile of letters for visitors to open and read; in another, squirreled away under the stairs, is a stockpile of filtered water. The convivial turn meets Doomsday Preppers. On the upper level, the sense of distress is heightened: A couch has been stripped of its cushioning, photographs of discarded fruit peels hang on leaning strips of plywood, and a monitor loops footage of a bucolic lake.

Within this two-part structure, Zumpfe recently performed where is this place, i pinch myself, 2018, a ritualistic action in which the artist, dressed in white and powdered with chalk, drew a line circumscribing the space from floor to ceiling, using a canary-yellow crowbar as a stylus. Ladders and knotted ropes provided access to the high ceilings and the crawl spaces behind the walls. What Zumpfe made was a wound, but also a tie—a construction that posits space as a salve.