at François Ghebaly, Los Angeles
April 15 2014
In a press release teeming with sincerity yet punctuated by ironic, sprawling non-sequiturs, the young men behind Ramiken Crucible—who curated this exhibition—declare that “Depressed humans are honest. Failure is certain.” Furthering this tension, the first artwork among many that one notices upon entering François Ghebaly’s downtown warehouse space is Stoner (2013) by Andra Ursuta—a giant batting cage in which a pitching machine hurls handmade, oversized stones at a wall. Nonchalantly posting up in front of Ursuta’s war arena is Gavin Kenyon’s cocky midnight cowboy, a fantastical “figurative sculpture” (Pimpin, 2008–2014). In the room over, Bjarne Melgaard (under the pseudonym Bjorn Amre) has leaned four vinyl planks against a wall, with each plank serving as a billboard (or a blown-up note-to-self) with a self-conscious, self-reflexive phrase, such as “POST-EPIDEMIC,” “IDEAL POLE,” “PARAPRAXIS,” and “Motor Paralysis,” inscribed on it. Each phrase reads in capital letters and each plank has a provocative book duct-taped to the top of its face, with the exception of “Motor Paralysis,” which suggests that this is one problem that needs no additional advertising to project its power. In the center of the room lies a rusted spiked roller machine, a mechanical monstrosity that was once used to symbolize oppression, but now can be seen as a strong statue depicting depression. This macabre machine punctuates Melgaard’s disjointed sculptural poem and the rest of the expansive exhibition, which also includes Catherine Ahearn, Lucas Blalock, Borden Capalino, Dan Finsel, Charlotte Hammer, Matt Heckert, Nolan Hendrickson and Margaret Weber. (Keith J. Varadi)
“Depression” at François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, runs through May 10.