Critics’ Picks

Liam Crockard, Reader 4 (Hermit), 2017, HD video, black-and-white, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds.

Liam Crockard, Reader 4 (Hermit), 2017, HD video, black-and-white, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds.

Los Angeles

Liam Crockard

67 Steps
2163 Princeton Ave
August 6–September 9, 2017

For this exhibition, Liam Crockard gives us three works riffing on course readers—the photocopied spiral-bound tomes that warp the spines of undergrads everywhere. One piece actually is a course reader (Reader 3 [Party for the Printers], all works 2017), containing page after page of photocopied collages. The next is a video (Reader 4 [Hermit]) for which frames of found footage were Xeroxed and then scanned into a stop-motion animation. The final work is an audio file (Reader 5 [Small World]).

All three are dense collages, with source material drawn from moments in which subcultures touch the mainstream. A snippet of Ed Sanders from the Fugs appearing on William F. Buckley Jr.’s talk show Firing Line (1966–99) whizzes by in the sound piece; Situationist and punk flyers zip by in the reader; and the dance sequence from Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande à part (Band of Outsiders) (1964) makes a seemingly memorable appearance in the video, but then again it’s hard to tell: Is it the Godard original or the Sonic Youth–scored cover version of the scene from Hal Hartley’s Simple Men (1992)?

This flattening of the differences between progressive and reactionary reads of similar visual material—what one might optimistically call the “recuperation” of subcultural material by harsh capitalism (which presumes that capital’s cancer hadn’t been at the root of the alternative in the first place)—is delightfully rendered by the exhibition’s deployment of the same technique across many mediums. The simple connection works, and with neither of the time-based pieces being particularly long, the show’s late-summer, back-to-school timing and earnest DIY approach feels breezy and light. Instead of coming across as cynical or sarcastic, Crockard’s laser-toner drenched work feels pleasingly exploratory and curious.