Brian Bress Cherry and Martin.
Out the windows of the car, rich parallax badlands scroll by--a peach-and-gray marble sky collaged with black-and-white mountains, shells, fingerprints, Joshua trees, and Surrealist junk. Timeless, immobile, and vacant, the barren landscape is once more the site of existential contemplation. But in Bress's video, the greater desert is the emptiness of art. The character-driven visual language developed in his earlier work is reduced here to the deflated projections of a resurrected modernism embodied by Martin. Bress's creatures exist in one scene, only to disappear in the next, burdened, perhaps, by their own superficiality. The wooden car is crudely upholstered; the costumes arc chunky and handcrafted. The seams of the illusion become corporeal limits--when, for instance, the driver touches the beads sewn to her passenger, pulls one off, and eats it. Sparse vibraphone and piano twinkle, a whistling wind rustles; the car plunges on.
In a series of framed video portraits in the next room, Bress's oddball figures shimmied or rotated in front of painterly backdrops (the Martin-csque grid in Cowboyr 2012, for example), appearing as adorable and lifeless as Tamagotchis. With names like Janus (Max) and Vamily (Devin, John, Jason, Lewis), both 2012, these pieces tit classical portraiture into a technically and commercially savvy package without ever claiming to actually represent their effaced subjects. The exhibition's punny title, "Under Performing/'1 was similarly evasive. "Under," as in "not good enough," or as in "supporting," could also mean "file under" or "chalk it up to." The staged levity of this exhibition acted as an escape hatch from the tortured inner workings of the video's superficial vehicle. In so ambivalently illustrating contemporary art's secret attraction to things like "inspiration," "beauty," "history," and "success," Creative Ideas parodies itself above all.
In the final scene, the mechanic turns to face the camera, and in his yokel drawl, sucking on his false teeth, sings us a cheesy song: "You know our love is like a circle / It comes around in the end." Might the possibility of beauty or happiness hide in art like true love in music--for Martin, the highest art form? What would happen if we followed her advice and willfully stopped thinking, forgetting everything we thought we knew? And can there be earnestness without altruism? The video raises serious questions, but haunted by Martin's dreamless confidence, it can't charm its way out of a self-imposed loop. Ultimately, though, aren't these vague art-historical echoes little more than empty problems? For Bress, as long as the art car looks good and keeps going, repetition is much safer than a straight answer.
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|Title Annotation:||LOS ANGELES; art exhibition in California|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2012|
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