Critics’ Picks

View of “Of Echo Systems,” 2016.

View of “Of Echo Systems,” 2016.

San Francisco

“Of Echo Systems”

Altman Siegel
1150 25th Street
January 7–February 20, 2016

An obstacle course provided by three floor-based works by K. r. m. Mooney makes traversing this show a tense endeavor. The delicacy and metallic hues of these mixed-media pieces—which often feature steel cables, wires, trays, and bars—ensure difficulty in trying to distinguish them from the concrete floor. This anxiety sets the tone for the austere exhibition “Of Echo Systems,” which augments a concern for viewing predicated on a heightened sensitivity of one’s bodily parameters. For instance, Will Rogan’s Adam 2, 2016, is a mahogany clock with a playful anthropomorphic, smiling face. It clearly looks back to similar Dadaist contraptions, but perhaps also to our current awareness of the body’s internal chronometer.

Yet for any holistic allusion, there is a lack of formal uniformity in the show. Take Shannon Ebner’s A SELF, 2015, a seven-foot-tall silk-screened list. Its height is ultimately referential to the body—the way a Donald Judd stack sculpture would be—yet Ebner’s list is uneven, irregular, and linguistic instead of pure color and volume. Meanwhile, Ebner’s video Unrested Image, 2013, offers a close-up of a post-op FTM torso. The image flickers as we are faced with the shifting nature of what had been historically an assumed given. In the throes of a desperate pluralistic search for appropriate forms of concretizing the body in art, this exhibition is a subtle but incisive stab at all the possibilities of subjectivity in our age.