Critics’ Picks

Gregory Green, Biblebomb #1907, (Russian Style, Tampa), 2008, mixed media, 5 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 13".

Gregory Green, Biblebomb #1907, (Russian Style, Tampa), 2008, mixed media, 5 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 13".

Los Angeles

“No Person May Carry a Fish into a Bar”

Blum & Poe | Los Angeles
2727 S. La Cienega Boulevard
July 14–August 25, 2012

Exploring intersections of art and crime, this extensive exhibition relays a set of sordid tales that underscore the fact that the activities of art are hardly ever devoid of ulterior motives. Cocurated by artists Julian Hoeber and Alix Lambert, “No Person May Carry a Fish into a Bar” privileges a history of deranged, gruesome, and corrupt events conveyed by a series of images and art objects that are both trustworthy and by nature deceptive. In most cases, it is left ambiguous whether or not the testimonies of the artworks hold up—whether, for instance, Robert Buck’s the shrine (from e to u), 2012, is the residue of an actual tragedy outside of the gallery on La Cienega Boulevard or a fictitious memorial that elicits mourning from naive passersby.

The exhibition aims to include works that restage the appearance of anonymous crime scenes, document supposed illegal activities, and purport to act as a kind of forensic evidence. However, the inclusion of those that bear some criminal intent—for example, Adam Janes’s homemade moonshine and two forged masterworks by Elmyr de Hory—is at the crux of the curators’ brief, which seeks to move away from mere representations of criminality and into the unlawful territory of that which is truly criminal.

Mel Chin’s HOME y SEW 9, 1994, offers a fully functional emergency gunshot treatment kit disguised in the form of a Glock 9mm handgun, while two sculptures by Gregory Green double as makeshift bombs missing a few key elements that prevent them from being functional explosive devices. It is most likely, though, that Chin and Green’s “weapons,” which retain an equivocal status as works of art, are more laborious and costly to transport across state lines than the very weapons implicated in many violent crimes—shootings and the like that are aptly mapped in Kori Newkirk’s Long Division (v.1), 2012, a continuous line of clipped newspaper photos that depict the ubiquitous yellow caution tape at crime scenes. From examples such as these, all of which waver between forms of illegal activity—however authentic or fictitious—and their mediation through images, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate the art from the crimes and the crimes from the art.