Thomas Hirschhorn: Love, Politics, Aesthetics, and Philosophy at The Mistake Room
Review by Lorraine Heitzman
Through December 17th
Like a crack den that has taken up residency in a furniture warehouse, Thomas Hirschhorn’s installation, Stand-alone at The Mistake Room is a ramshackle blend of chaotic forces and familiar props. For those seeking an immersive and tumultuous experience while remaining perfectly safe, this show on view through December 17th may provide the requisite thrill. Based on a work that was created in 2007, Hirschhorn asks himself, “Where do I stand?” and “What do I want?” You may be provoked into considering these questions for yourself or you may leave wondering whether or not the actualization of the artist’s plan moves beyond a laundry list of disparate thoughts. Sometimes a list is just a list despite how dressed up, or in this case, dressed down the list appears.
Upon entering The Mistake Room, visitors find themselves in the ruins of a dystopian junkyard filled with spare parts from a passionate and disturbed psyche. In each of the four rooms constructed for this show, the same elements are repeated with slight variants; each room, we are told, addresses a separate theme: love, politics, aesthetics, and philosophy. They are distinguished from each other by the content of the writing on the walls and different books but unified by the same furniture, similar fireplaces, electronics, handmade props and texture of the haphazard and artless graffiti covering the walls from floor to ceiling.
The rooms are dominated by a single, large cardboard pillar fallen on its side and interrupted with images of human mutilations (perhaps war injuries?) appearing like so many TV monitors broadcasting anonymous horrors. The pillars call to mind the cast of Trajan’s Column in the Victoria and Albert Museum whose large size dominates the interior space and replicates the original Roman artifact chronicling victorious military campaigns. In Hirschhorn’s hands, his columns reflect modern military casualties, but the pillar itself is toppled, indicating loss or ruin and the photographs show misery rather than triumphant conquests.
Racks of upholstered furniture mummified with packing tape line the rooms and each of the four spaces feature a fireplace overflowing with kindling and faux logs. Atop each sagging mantle is a row of books reflecting the room’s theme with one symbolic oversized book on each fireplace. The books are also referenced in a list attached to the face of the hearth signifying their importance and perhaps admonishing us to do our homework.
Oversized wood slabs marked with the word “faith” are strewn around each room like giant tokens and in the corner are heaps of green lozenge shaped, giant pills with “you” imprinted onto their surfaces. Television sets are taped to the walls at dangerous angles completing the appearance of a chaotic mind made manifest.
At best, Hirschhorn turns our attention to our culture with a broad overview of some political, philosophical, aesthetic and emotional issues. The manic disarray of Stand-alone is an attempt to illustrate what the artist is contemplating, but the democratic elevation of all thoughts lack discrimination. We already know that our world is conflicting. This ambitious reveal into the artist’s thought processes might be all encompassing, but to what end?
Thomas Hirschhorn: Stand-alone at The Mistake Room through December 17, 2016
The Mistake Room 1811 East 20th Street Los Angeles, CA 90058 tel. 213-749-1200