Critics’ Picks

Timo Fahler, Creosote Dream (with gold rebar), 2016, twenty-four-carat gold-plated rebar, dyed Hydrocal, burlap, chicken wire, 48 x 43".

Los Angeles

Rafa Esparza and Timo Fahler

Club Pro Los Angeles
1525 South Main Street 3rd floor
September 16–October 16, 2016

“Creosote Dream,” Timo Fahler’s toxicolored series of tinted Hydrocal casts on chicken wire (all works cited, 2016), reads like a rain-damp desert fantasy. Yet the works also bear the impression of a creosote-poisoned telephone pole. Such a detail drags the sculptures’ playful formalism into political invective. Likewise, the ragged shoes Rafa Esparza cuts and folds into pigeon-like, swoosh-winged birds aren’t any old Nikes, but Nike Cortez—named after the bloodthirsty, gold-crazy conquistador who toppled the Aztec Empire and founded Mexico City on the ruins. Creosote Dream (with gold rebar) even includes a twenty-four-carat-plated finger of Japanese rebar steel. Pretty to look at, Fahler’s and Esparza’s stumps, pours, eggs, birds, and adobe would allegorize urban renewal as conquest.

The artists collaborated on the main event, A Post-Industrial Snake: a manhole-shaped rebar framework broken into segments that appear to interpenetrate the building, as if more idea than animal. The tail, tipped with twin rows of construction lamps fitted with faux vintage bulbs, appears first, on a landing; other parts lie on the stairs or hook between walls; behind an adobe and Hydrocal partition in the farthest room is the reveal: a big fanged head. Demolition and construction, death and rebirth all combine in the rattlesnake—a symbol of the serpent god Quetzalcoatl, Hernán Cortés, and modern Mexico, by turns. This composited thousand-year history chews at its setting in a few roughly remodeled rooms above garment shops on the edge of the Fashion District. A simplified, formalist cycle, synecdochically freighted by its materials—the spectral gentrification of Snake looms large enough to swallow any viewer. But developers have bigger jaws still.