Critics’ Picks

View of “Tamara Henderson: Seasons End: Panting Healer,” 2016.

View of “Tamara Henderson: Seasons End: Panting Healer,” 2016.

Los Angeles

Tamara Henderson

Gallery at REDCAT
631 West 2nd Street
October 15–December 23, 2016

Tamara Henderson’s exhibition “Seasons End: Panting Healer” charts a geography of actual places and unconscious emotions. The peripatetic Canadian-born artist’s first solo exhibition in the US is grounded in a traveler’s memories, but the installation feels less like a travel diary and more like a wanderer’s mind refracted onto a set of materials that have taken on a life of their own. This metaphor is best realized in the large sculptural work Seasons End Vehicle (all works cited, 2016), with a working door and seats for the visitor, and in the figure X-Rayed Path, clad in fabric printed with a world map.

The show toggles between the evanescence of dreams and the tangible presence of materials such as fabric, wood, plastic, straw, and film-developing chemicals. Substantial sculptural objects personify jumbled layers of ideas, channeling memory’s overlapping, trace-bearing properties, which Freud long ago compared to a “mystic writing pad.” A dozen or so totemic figures scattered about the room guide the spectator through the installation and its slow-burning magic. Made of rectangular pieces of fabric splayed out like flags, each figure has an assemblage affixed on top, two boxes on the floor for feet, and a pattern that resembles sprocket holes down the left and right sides. Film is an important component of the installation, mostly functioning as material rather than image, although there is a small projection of one of Henderson’s films, Season’s End. The most sizable sculpture in the room, Garden Photographer Scarecrow, is an assemblage-figure reclining on the floor, which is meant to signify a “dehydrated scarecrow on her deathbed” (according to the wall text). The traveler’s memories, as endangered as the scarecrow, are accessible only through the tangible presence of the things that remain.