A pre­sen­ta­tion of triv­ial pur­suits

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Leah Oll­man cal­en­dar@ latimes. com

Rachel Har­ri­son’s show at Re­gen Projects en­cap­su­lates des­per­a­tion and self- im­por­tance.

Rachel Har­ri­son’s thor­oughly dispir­it­ing show at Re­gen Projects in­cludes a se­ries of pho­to­graphs of foot­prints in snow and slush. The 34 im­ages, made on an iPhone, are un­re­mark­able. Their col­lec­tive ti­tle, how­ever, is re­veal­ing: “FOMO,” an acro­nym for Fear of Miss­ing Out, serves fairly well to en­cap­su­late the nox­ious com­bi­na­tion of des­per­a­tion and self- im­por­tance that per­me­ates the show.

Har­ri­son, based in New York, has ex­hib­ited sculp­tures, in­stal­la­tions, draw­ings and pho­to­graphs in bi­en­ni­als and mu­seum shows in­ter­na­tion­ally. Banal­ity is the chief in­gre­di­ent in her work, and she uses it like an all- pur­pose sea­son­ing that, para­dox­i­cally, sub­tracts f la­vor.

The ti­tle of the Re­gen show of­fers another in­di­ca­tion of Har­ri­son’s stunted strate­gies. “Three Young Framers” gives a wink to Au­gust San­der’s well- known 1914 pho­to­graph of three young farm­ers, dash­ingly but some­what in­con­gru­ously dressed in suits, walk­ing a coun­try road in Wester­wald, Ger­many, on their way to a dance. Har­ri­son al­ludes here to self- pre­sen­ta­tion in her sculp­tures in­cor­po­rat­ing selfie sticks, but her wink to San­der is lit­tle more than an easy pun, sig­nal­ing false affin­ity.

Her show touches on two as­pects of fram­ing: the record­ing of one’s own ac­tions and ap­pear­ance, and the pre­sen­ta­tion of art­works within the con­text of ex­hi­bi­tion. She has built a labyrinth of me­tal- stud walls that sub­di­vide part of the gallery into smaller rooms. Visi­tors are en­cour­aged to slip through the studs and wan­der within, where Har­ri­son has placed a pal­let of cin­derblocks and a dozen clunky, blocky lit­tle ce­ment- slathered zig­gu­rats, painted in brash col­ors.

“Ex­hi­bi­tion De­vice” is another gra­tu­itous wink, this time to Michael Asher’s 2008 in­stal­la­tion at the Santa Mon­ica Mu­seum of Art, a reprise, in me­tal studs, of ev­ery tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion wall in the venue’s 10- year ex­is­tence. Har­ri­son’s ges­ture is a hol­low echo of a work with real res­o­nance and con­cep­tual heft.

In another piece, again so much less evoca­tive than its ref­er­ent, she calls to mind the el­e­gant col­ored yarn in­stal­la­tions of Fred Sand­back. She takes ad­van­tage of a lot of “bor­rowed vivid­ness,” to bor­row a vivid term from John McPhee, but doesn’t gen­er­ate much on her own.

Her selfie stick sculp­tures are clumsy, com­bi­na­tions of lumpy or­ganic forms a la Wil­liam Tucker, and up­right wood planks fa­mil­iar to much post­war ab­strac­tion. Their sur­faces are crusty, their hues gaudy.

Har­ri­son makes an abun­dance of cheap jokes and in­jokes, ver­bal and vis­ual. “Mag­num,” for in­stance, with its sack of lead shot tucked into the sculp­ture’s base, al­ludes to shoot­ing with both cam­era and gun, but with­out any syn­er­gis­tic pay­off. In mix­ing the found and fab­ri­cated, the high­minded and the hum­ble, Har­ri­son triv­i­al­izes it all.

Re­gen Projects

RACHEL HAR­RI­SON’S new show, “Three Young Framers,” fea­tures an abun­dance of cheap jokes.

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