Los Angeles

Taro Chiezo, Michael Cohen, Louanne Greenwald, Charles LaBelle and Maria Lafia

Domestic Setting

Though quite a few commercial Los Angeles galleries have been forced to close their doors in the last few years, a growing number of innovative alternative spaces have sprung up in their place, such as Bill Radawec’s domestic setting, a “gallery” that is located in private homes sprinkled around West Los Angeles.

This spring, Radawec arranged challenging and quirky works by an array of young artists in three separate “domestic settings.” The living and dining room of one home served as the site for a show of works (all 1993-94) by Charles LaBelle (including photographs documenting his blindfolded wanderings in the streets of New York), Taro Chiezo (lovely collages made of lace and color Xeroxes), and Michael Cohen (whose primary contribution was King of Comedy II—a dollhouse hung from the ceiling from which protruded a skeleton loaded with photographic and textual references to sibling rivalry). Both Cohen’s lugubrious airing of the family “skeletons” and Charles LaBelle’s Untitled (coat)—an anorak fashioned of eerily luminescent home-movie-screens standing nonchalantly in the vestibule of the house to greet the visitor—made intriguing references to domesticity.

In a second home—Radawec’s own—the modest, modern living room was filled with Marie Lafia’s series of works entitled “Little Potentials, activate 2000,” 1994, constructed from sponges, glass spheres, laminated Xeroxes, and computer disks, including Backup 1A034J27—two priapic columns of floppy disks in alternating primary colors mounted on the wall up to the ceiling. The columns corrupt the austere formalist grids and rigid sculptural forms of Minimalism with the high-tech software tools of the information age. Lafia’s offbeat sensibility (Modernist forms inflected by post-Modernist concepts and materials) also informs Detached Molecules 3/5 raspberry, 2/5 orange, a shelf, mounted at eye level on the wall, holding large “raspberry” sponges cradling variously arranged glass spheres in “molecular” configurations. Lafia merges the low-and high-tech in the domestic site, appropriately combining domestic tools with the newly domesticated personal computer.

The third site housed an equally evocative body of work: LouAnne Greenwald’s “Skinned,” a group of post-Minimalist “sculptures” made of pantyhose (all 1993-94), ranging from the intimate, vaginal pucker of a wad of delicate, cream-colored hose gathered with pearl-headed pins to the huge Reinforced Corner, a taut “V” of black hose, legs spread against the corner of the room. Referencing both Robert Morris’ languid and fleshlike felt pieces and his more “rigorous” beam pieces, Greenwald’s hose objects offer a feminine alternative to the structural virility of Minimalist sculpture. Pelt, for example, was constructed of translucent skeins of flesh-colored hose, stretched tautly across the wall; installed ceremoniously over the mantel-piece it commented wittily on male fetishism.

The rich significance of Greenwald’s examination of domesticity is ample evidence that these “domestic settings” encourage both a different kind of relationship to the object and provide new contexts that generate unexpected meanings. Given the collapse of the current art market, one has to be grateful that Radawec has seen this situation as an opportunity to work in a truly alternative way against the institutionalized constraints of the exhibition space.

Amelia Jones