Extracting the Global and Offering the Intimate at TAM
Torrance Art Museum, Torrance
Through May 14, 2022
Written by Genie Davis
Presented by Supercollider, Extraction: Earth, Ashes, Dust now at the Torrance Art Museum in the main gallery, is a fascinating exhibition featuring a wide range of mediums. The artworks explore connections between geography and geology, the body, man’s environmental crises, and community, and features work from artists Kim Abeles, Matthew Brandt, Treva Ellison, Zane Griffin Talley Cooper, Katie Gressitt-Diaz, Beatriz Jaramillo, Sarah E. Jenkins, Noa Kaplan, Romi Morrison, Ignacio Perez Meruane, Elena Soterakis, and Julie Weitz. Curated by Isabel Beavers and Sharon Levy, the exhibition is richly encompassing.
Mathew Brandt’s astonishingly vibrant series of heated chromogenic prints with acrylic varnish and aqua resin, five images from his numbered “Vatnajökull MCY, 2018-2020” are dazzling in palette and startlingly dimensional. This is mysterious and magical terrain. Julie Weitz’ video, “Prayer for Burnt Forests,” is also resonant, visually poetic.
Like slices of geology and thick Doric columns combined, the porcelain and paraffin sculpture from Beatriz Jaramillo, “Broken Landscape,” is the color of Tiger’s Eye agate, and evocatively shaped. Other works here by Jaramillo are equally powerful, such as her conjoined, mysterious photographic images in “Connect 27,000 Dots.”
Kim Abeles smog-created art works are both strangely delicate and ephemeral as well as being viscerally heart-stopping. This is our air, our planet, our human filth. Her table setting “Forty Days and Forty Nights (Forty Days of Smog),” gives us smog on glass, wood, chiffon chairs. It’s deadly beautiful and terrible. So too is her smog window scene, smog impressed upon repurposed acrylic in “Air Share (Twenty Days of Smog/ Ten Days of Acid Rain).” The loveliness of the scene defies its defiling medium. Equally riveting are her images of “World Leaders” created from smog on porcelain plates.
Zane Griffin Talley Cooper along with Katie Gressit-Diaz immerses viewers in the sights and sounds of “Iceland Land” and “Alchemical Infrastructures: Making Blockchain in Iceland.” The works offer an understanding of the grandness of the earth, and man’s inability to tame and comprehend it.
The fragility of the natural world and its sky seem to be captured in the untitled, large scale, spun copper bowls of Ignacio Perez Meruane; while Romi Morrison and Treva Ellison map a mystery in “Decoding Possibilities,” which includes a layered, printed ‘zine, anaglyph cartographic print, red film viewfinders, and vinyl wall text, resembling an impression of Mars.
Resin and salvaged poplar are the materials used in another map of sorts, one of loss and change, in a series of highly textural topographical images by Noa Kaplan. This series encompasses faux bones, the patterns of sand, and what may be shifting land masses in his “Disaster Relief.”
Sarah E. Jenkins’ stop-motion animation provides a fascinating whirlpool, in the mesmerizing but enigmatic “Patch Work.” Elena Soterakis’ oil on panel series “Jurassic Technology” is a lustrous but alarming travelogue through oil fields. The fierce aqua opalescence of the sky belies the insistent drilling of the oil pumps beneath it.
Separate from this exhibition, but meshing perfectly with it, is the latest incarnation of Daniela Soberman’s large scale “Memorial to the Future,” a massive city constructed for the LA Art Show earlier this year, and collaboratively installed with TAM. This version is a tumbled, labyrinth-like series of stark white and black buildings titled “A Reconfiguration + Evolving Site-Specific Installation.” To experience it is a treasure hunt for the senses.
In TAM’s Gallery Two, Closer Now, Intimacy in a Rehabilitating Society, offers an intimate look at connections. Curated by Marcus Masaki Rodriguez and TAM, painted and photographic works from artists Palmer Earl, Laura Krifka, Matt Lipps, Heather Rasmussen, and Ryan Schude engage in highly personal visual conversation. Rasmussen’s impossibly convoluted female bodies bend and twist in her two perfectly rendered “Untitled” pigment print works. Schude’s amber-hued photographic works illustrate domestic scenes that are engaging narrative mysteries, including the drama unfolding in “Kitchen.” Lipps’ burgundy and grey embryonic image “Act 1” forms somewhat echo the forms in a Matisse collage.
Palmer Earle’s lustrous acrylic works include the stand-out, and highly personal “Mother and Daughter,” in which figures separated by a mirror and yet joined to it, are bound to each other, each other’s image emotionally mutable. Krifka’s oil on panel “Starling” offers another personal, observant view of womanhood perfectly, realistically realized and yet emotionally dream-like.
Whether trafficking in personal relationships or our relationship to the world, each of the exhibitions on display are journeys well worth taking.