Critics’ Picks

View of “Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders,” 2012.

Los Angeles

Michael Queenland

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Bergamot Station G1 2525 Michigan Avenue
September 15 - December 22

Michael Queenland’s somber and sprawling Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders, 2012, takes inspiration from Rudis Resterampe, a discount shop peddling cast-off textile scraps and other surplus household items which the artist came across three years ago in Germany. Mostly floor-bound, the various assemblages or “ramps” on view are carefully organized sculptural constellations that foster abstract and subjective but also decisive sociological critiques. The show is a warehouse for our generative elucidations as well as a mirror onto how such meanings reproduce.

For instance, recessions and the products that thrive during them: KRAVE NATION, reads the lurid advertising on a box of Kellogg’s within a taxonomical collection of more packaged cereal. JOIN THE PACK! Behind, Olympic athletes raise their arms in solidarity on the covers of Wheaties. In other ramps, round plasticized balloons resemble oversize heads (sometimes overflowing with cereal), and PVC piping evokes bodily organs. Some of these objects convene upon pages from this and last year’s New York Times—often featuring advertisements, images of war, and obituaries. Sheathed in plastic bags, folded into stacks, or spread open, the newspapers ultimately take on a presentational role here; they are used not just for support but seemingly also as part of a ceremony or ritual. Still, a syntax emerges from the great ocean of printed words, and sometimes the lack thereof: the wrapped blankets in the “Body Bag Quilts,” the elegiac symbols embedded in war rugs from Afghanistan in “9/11 War Ramp” and “Afghan War Rug Ramp.”

In the corner of this bargain basement milieu sits the “Loner Ramp,” one of the sculptural punctums of the exhibition. A dented white plasticized balloon resonates with a nearby image of Eleanor Callahan (from her obit), her milky arms folded over her head. Eventually the newsprint picture will fade, along with the other remainders. Naturally, everything must go.