los-angeles

Kaari Upson

Hammer Museum

Remember the scene in David Fincher’s 1995 neo-noir Seven when detectives, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, scavenge the hermetically sealed apartment of Kevin Spacey’s serial killer “John Doe”? The scariest moment arrives not when the two dicks find a neon cross over the bed, nor endless emptied pill bottles, nor even the gruesome severed hands of a victim, but when they uncover hundreds of notebooks, densely filled with psychotic scholarship. It’s the kind of image that finds lineage from the revelation of Norman Bates’s skeletal mother to the wall of stolen family photos in the Robin Williams pedophilia vehicle One Hour Photo (2002), and, most recently, in an exhibition by Kaari Upson in the Hammer Museum’s otherwise sterile lobby.

Whether Upson is an actual psycho or just playing make-believe remains to be seen, but her dense, wall- and floor-filling installation of labor-intensive,

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