Co/Lab 4 at Torrance Art Museum
Torrance Art Museum, Torrance
through May 17
Written by Eve Wood
Historically within the scope of art history, collaboration has played a significant role within the creative arts especially as it relates to cross disciplines within cultures. Once again, the Torrance Art Museum gives us a collaborative project which presents eight artist run galleries partnering with eight artist run spaces from the city of Rotterdam. The results are astoundingly varied and innovative.
There is an emphasis here on the “collective,” a group of artists operating as one unit of inspiration and aesthetic specificity. The show also tackles ideas about technology and how new and innovative technologies are supplanting our own human desires. Evident also is the reflection of significant trends in today’s artwork as many of the artists in the collectives from both Los Angeles and The Netherlands appear fascinated with the intersections between art and technology, low and highbrow gestures and our own human dependence on the new and ever-burgeoning technological age. For example, Colin Roberts’ Lava Projects gives us four artists, each of whom posits an extraordinary relationship to the world of nature and technology. A stand out is Jenn Berger’s “Stranger Friends (David),” 2017, a stunning colored pencil drawing of what appears to be a deep-sea diver, a young man shown smiling, a fish in one hand, a harpoon in the other. The image is reminiscent of Leon Golub’s Mercenaries series, where the figures of Vietnam soldiers appear to blend seamlessly with their surroundings including their uniforms, blurring the distinction between hero and enemy, perpetrator and victim, good and evil.
Many of the works in the exhibition show technology as it is dismantled, as is the case with Carlos Beltran Arechiga’s Border Angeles, Lampedusa, 2017, a large-scale painting that gives us a variety of strange armatures, scraps of metal, pieces of human detritus blown apart on a blue background. The image is both beautiful and arresting, sinister and seductive. Other works in the show are more overtly conceptual with a darkly enigmatic humor. Jennifer Celio’s On the Thursday Side, 2018, a painting of a desert landscape punctuated by a series of blue lines that functions as pylons of some sort, and in the sky the words, Pls Do Not Broken. The landscape is sunny and very California-like in its apparent optimism, which is in stark contrast with the works from Rotterdam, most of which are conceptually based. The collectives Acceptable Risk from Los Angeles and Amber Solo from Rotterdam explore the ways in which technology dictates the way in which we come to understand and appreciate works of art. Carpet cushions and neon electrical cords help to facilitate a more tactile visual experience to support Amber Solo’s digitally printed images of original artworks. As two ARLA artists who utilize technology in their practices, Sean Cully and Joshua Oduga were chosen to participate in the project alongside Amber Solo. Sean Cully fabricates sculptural pieces comprised of wood and various mechanical parts. He begins with a concept of how the piece can interact with humans and builds every component to support that singular idea. Joshua Oduga primarily uses sound and video in his practice, using open source technology to synthesize found and self-created imagery with music and sound. The results are minimal yet very affecting in their sparseness and power.