Critics’ Picks

Trisha Donnelly, Untitled, 2015, gelatin silver print on ilford paper, 10 x 9 7/8".

Los Angeles

Trisha Donnelly

Matthew Marks Gallery | 1062 N Orange Grove
1062 N Orange Grove
September 26 - November 7

In Trisha Donnelly’s work the deferral of meaning has become an aesthetic operation—one that extends beyond the site of display and into the systems of production and distribution that surround, and often define, the work of art. While one could identify the works in the show as photographs, videos, and drawings, the artist seems less concerned with anchoring artworks in their about-ness as much as suspending meaning in the margins of what is formally “on view.” Here, unceremonious gestures—an exposed back door left slightly ajar or the hardcover book propping up a projector, for instance—become heavy with potential significance, occasionally inducing frustration but also moments of sublimity. The most poignant example is found in a black tarp that loosely covers a single skylight—the gallery’s main light source. Controlled by the unpredictable choreography of wind, sunlight illuminates the room as wavy flicker or trapezoidal planes.

If the drastic shifts of light and raw borders of her photographs and projections emphasize the periphery, the edges of Donnelly’s works embody a kind of softness and viscosity. In the frenzied vibrations and globular shapes, the artist’s videos convey the liquid qualities of photographic emulsions and running water—the delicate tremor between darkness and exposure. There is also light jazz. Playing from a speaker-system inelegantly located in a back corner of the gallery, the exhibition’s buoyant soundtrack recalls the cinema of Jacques Tati, set here against airport seats and an untitled 2013 video work that manifests the frenetic rhythm of Paul Sharits’s flicker films but features geometric and diagrammatic forms evoking the electric insides of a sentient scanner. At some point the music momentarily shifts from pleasant melody to a strange spectral noise with sonar frequencies, locating us somewhere between the deep sea and the celestial unknown.