• Diana Thater

    Dorothy Goldeen Gallery

    The title of Diana Thater’s latest video installation, Dogs and Other Philosophers, 1991, refers to Thomas Hardy’s meditation on “the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.” In Hardy’s novel, Far From the Madding Crowd, 1874, from which the phrase was lifted, logical conclusions are disclosed as tragically wrongheaded; in fact, the earnest young sheepdog pursues his flock so diligently that he ends up herding them over the

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  • Manuel Ocampo

    Fred Hoffman Gallery

    Like many complex, authentic gestures, ultimately Manuel Ocampo’s paintings, which relentlessly display physical and spiritual agony, are simple, organic, and speak of things close to home. Chaotic, angry, and 100 percent morbid, Ocampo’s paintings are also fun to look at. Though they resemble folk retablos, they are broader in scope and less specifically private. No direct prayers to Jesus to help a brother or sister regain their consciousness, no thank-yous for rescuing a loved one from under a bus, figure in these images. The grim events depicted here are far from accidental; colonial rulers

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  • Michael Gonzalez

    Kohn Gallery

    It’s appropriate that Michael Gonzalez’s latest show, throughout which bobs a surprising scatological referent, is unveiled as the art world is in economic middive. Recession implies regression, insofar as productivity is the criterion we use to distinguish infants, who take pleasure in shitting, from grown-ups, who take pride in shitwork. Not working, in turn, means reverting—relinquishing adult independence. Representing an in-between state, artmaking is celebrated as the closest that a laborer can come to doing squat.

    Prior to this outing, Gonzalez was known for assembling tiny, disparate

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  • Ellen Birrell

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

    T(h)ree Rings, 1991, Ellen Birrell’s installation, consisted of a three-part sequence of situations in which a variety of materials, photographs, and texts were punningly manipulated to address issues of naming, stereotyping, and marginalization. Birrell constructed her own small exhibition space in one of the museum galleries, finishing this room over the course of the show. The floor and walls of the surrounding gallery were also used for display, and the resulting dichotomy between the site’s interior and exterior aspects reiterated the reflection on classification systems at the work’s core.

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