Critics’ Picks

Balona (New Place), 2004.

Balona (New Place), 2004.

Los Angeles

Skylar Haskard

Parker Jones
8545 Washington Blvd.
May 15–June 19, 2004

In Robert Smithson's humorous 1971 drawing Towards the Development of a “Cinema Cavern,” a collaged photo of a spelunker suggests the perfect spectator for a “truly underground cinema.” Similar subterranean thinking invades Skylar Haskard’s seven-channel video installation Balona (New Place), 2004, appropriately (non-)sited in the gallery’s decrepit basement. The monitors are mounted on a skeletal wooden cube and face inward, outward, or upward, creating a complex spatial and temporal arrangement. The individual channels reveal Haskard’s obsessions with tubes, funnels, food, and liquids—all chosen with an eye for intense color—and evoke bodily processes of eating, shitting, and everything in between. Mining this territory, Haskard frequently employs vertiginous footage shot by a video camera strapped to his head. The hide-and-seek juxtaposition of images induces a delirious primal confusion between interior and exterior: Attempting to digest the whole installation would be as preposterous as climbing into one’s own asshole. The title (and setting) of the work implicates the eponymous West Los Angeles wetlands recently overtaken by commercial development, to the horror of environmentalists. Rather than taking an overt political stand, Haskard orchestrates aesthetic overload, staging a spectacular folly in which the conquest of nature signals an involuted spiral of production without progress.