Critics’ Picks

View of “Protuberances,” 2016. From left: Naotaka Hiro, Peaking, 2016; Ass Gong, 2010.

View of “Protuberances,” 2016. From left: Naotaka Hiro, Peaking, 2016; Ass Gong, 2010.

Los Angeles


7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
September 17–October 29, 2016

Park McArthur suggested in this past summer’s issue of Artforum that identity is an expandable pocket, “like the bottomless velvet bags used at magic shows.” In a parallel universe, I imagine that this pocket looks a lot like A. K. Burns and Katherine Hubbard’s In Spirit of “Knuckles” the Handbag, 2014, in this group show. Both campy and base, it is at once a crocheted purse and a plastic bag, encrusted with doorknobs, ceramic mug handles, utility knives, a quartz crystal, and a papier-mâché hand. This exterior appears to be about a hand’s work—the array of objects we take hold of to hurt, heal, and nourish our bodies and those of others. Any promise of efficacy is nearly voided by the exhausted proliferation of forms; yet still it persists as this pocket, this bag.

Naotaka Hiro’s performance-based videos such as Ass Gong, 2010, and Peaking, 2016, along with a related sculpture, Peak, 2016, stand sentinel over the main space of the exhibition. His is a more claustrophobic take on Carolee Schneemann’s Up to and Including Her Limits, 1973–76—the whirling lines he draws from inside a large canvas bag (there it is again, the pocket!) echoing the spinning cast-bronze ass gong, which once every three minutes is ceremoniously beaten. Elsewhere, smaller, quieter works hold court: Bashir Naim’s short, looped dance Improvisation, 2015, displayed on a cracked iPhone, and Johanna Breiding’s velvety photograph titled Still Life with Octopus and Inverted Basketballs, 2015. These are only a few of the works that elucidate the possibilities of bodies and the expanse of identity.