Critics’ Picks

Christina Fernandez, Lavanderia #1, 2002, ink-jet print, 30 x 40".

Christina Fernandez, Lavanderia #1, 2002, ink-jet print, 30 x 40".

Los Angeles

“Southland”

Gallery Luisotti
2525 Michigan Avenue B2
Open by appointment only

Of all the Los Angeles streets, apartment facades, and interiors depicted in “Southland,” the modern 1960s-style living room in John Divola’s photograph X18F5, 2002, may seem the most familiar and uncanny. The image is from Divola’s “X-Files,” 2002, which features sets from the titular TV show; this interior is a re-creation of a set from The Brady Bunch, repurposed for the long-running science-fiction series.

The slippages in X18F5 between reality and illusion, between a sense of absence and an unseen gaze, pervade the exhibition. Photographs by Peter Holzhauer, James Welling, and Mark Ruwedel (who co-organized the show with gallery director Theresa Luisotti) cast a noir shadow across ordinary scenes, reflecting the gulf between Hollywood’s filmic magic and the banality of daily life for many Angelenos. (The phrase “expect everything” on a Budweiser billboard above two dingy houses in Holzhauer’s 2007 photo says it all.)

Ecological and sociopolitical issues surface in Chelsea Mosher’s richly textured close-ups of industrial netting from the Port of Long Beach and in Christina Fernandez’s images of laundromats in Latino neighborhoods. The latter, photographed from outside, evoke the city’s separations between insiders and outsiders, specifically the othering of LA’s largely lower- and middle-class non-white communities by white, moneyed residents.

The most unsettling works may be Steve Kahn’s photographs of motel room windows and mirrors from his mid-1970s series “The Hollywood Suites.” The voyeuristic gaze is palpable in these works, which capture the complexity of a city that is at once mundane and unsettling—a city where, as in Divola’s works, The Brady Bunch and The X-Files collide.