Author: Amy Sillman --- Date: 02/20/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Left of Center
Ten in One Gallery
1542 N. Damen,
Chicago, IL, 60622
Jan 12-Feb 17, 1996

Twelve young artists from LA were featured here, and the show was the usual roundup of the goofy-looking and the elegant. (Coolidge, Couzens, Elesby, Fierro, Finley, Gonzales, Hollingsworth, Kersels, Radawec, Todd, Tull, Whipple.) The show was fine, though the scale was a little too consistent: everything looked like it had been chosen because it could be shipped easily, though I guess you can't really fault a small gallery for that.

The stand-out piece was Martin Kersel's video installation, which was inexplicably and frustratingly hidden in the back room and had to be turned on by request. I don't understand this decision; what's the point of making video even more marginal by making it hard to see it and intimidating to ask for? Anyway, the piece is a skewed version of a music video. Viewed on a teeny screen (made satisfyingly uncomfortable by the fact that you can't avoid the reflection of part of your own peering face), the video lasts just a bit longer than the song/soundtrack, by a Japanese pop group called Peppermint Teahouse. While the slightly Hindi-pop or Thai-pop song plays, a tiny man, far away down a hall and barely visible, seems to be undressing and then re-dressing. His outfit seems to be some kind of square-ish bear suit... or maybe not. It's hard to tell because he's way down the hall. He walks toward us down the narrow corridor and disappears off-screen. The song finishes. That's it. It seems like some odd form of music-video deconstruction. You can't see what he's wearing, though the whole video is just getting in and out of an outfit, with underwear or possible nudity while he's in-between.

As unlikely as this may seem, it reminded me of the beginnings of various Kenneth Anger videos, where getting dressed to go out is the fetishized focus. There are other artists using music video, and either emphasizing or purposefully obscuring the sales/sex/consumer fetish, like Robert Beck's video (seen recently at Lauren Wittels) of the inside of his mouth to the accompaniment of a Morrissey song. The Kersels piece is less relentless but in the same way foils the purposes of music videos while giving you the pointless but familiar pleasure of watching them.

-Amy Sillman

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Ken Sillman --

Just a friendly hello from missouri.