Critics’ Picks

View of “laub: the love in our belly,” 2016.

View of “laub: the love in our belly,” 2016.

Santa Cruz


The Greenhouse Project
September 24–October 29, 2016

In the center of a golden room glowing in the midday sun sits a glass saguaro cactus on a wooden table held together with soldered copper wires and blooming with handmade flowers. An old pay phone hangs silent and broken from the wall, and a twisted gold stick leans listlessly in a corner across from an industrious electric fan waving its blades to billow a single plastic bag. A black wooden chair lingers by the door.

In Golden Room (all works 2016) one can watch the shadows of a passing day trace their patterns over the old walls, cut and scarred, and hear the voice of laub echoing from the video #AndNowWeLetGo, shown on a tablet propped just outside the swooping curve of the cut swinging door. In it, laub speaks in fragment after fragment, as intimate as a video call, with absurd images mixing into the twist of poems and shudder of naked emotional declarations.

The artist offers his phone number in the press release, so I called it. We talked briefly, and he told me the installation was inspired by a mutual friend, Emi, who recently and suddenly died. I went back to the gold room to sit and watch those shadows slowly shift alongside the cough and stutter of traffic just outside. While sitting there, laub sent me an email to follow up on our conversation: “I spent this entire month thinking about Emi with a saguaro that had golden juice slowly spilling out of its wounds and she would be catching it—in her hand hands and there were honeysuckles everywhere—you know the smell? It is a golden smell. . . . And I want to cry in the golden room—like I think it’s a good place to be sad.” And it is.