David Lamelas at Sprüth Magers & Amalia Pica at Marc Foxx | closing October 21, 2017
Two exhibitions, just down the block from one another, along the Miracle Mile stretch of Wilshire Blvd, present poignant examples from which I have found great solace in mediating my relation to structure:
David Lamelas’ Time as Activity, on view at Sprüth Magers Los Angeles, presents a selection of eleven films that demarcate the hallmarks of the artist’s eponymous series. The exhibition begins with Time as Activity – Düsseldorf from 1969, the very first of this on-going project, and extends to the present with Time as Activity Madrid (2017) and Time as Activity Athens-Berlin live (2017). In between are films that mark the passage of nine minutes and twenty-five seconds in New York, ten minutes in Los Angeles, fifteen minutes in Buenos Aires, twenty-nine minutes in Berlin, twelve minutes and forty-four seconds in St. Gallen, seventeen minutes and twenty-four seconds in Naples, and sixteen minutes and forty-six seconds in London.
Each film was produced using a stationary camera, typically capturing the mundane actions and rambling movements of unsuspecting individuals filtering through city squares and busy intersections. In their lived experiences, these people are framed by the architecture of their urban environments and the value of time negotiated and exchanged by the capitalist system. In Lamelas’ films, they are framed by the lens’ purview, and an arbitrary quantity of minutes and seconds that the artist claims does not contain “aesthetic meaning.” Surely, the sequence of events presented in these films are not imagined and narrated in the same way that documentary footage may be presented, or even the way a neorealist like Luchino Visconti captured the slow progression from lighting a match to smoking a cigarette. However, Lamelas’ films aestheticize time in the sense that he represents it, and though he may not be concerned with the contents of his films, the act of containing them through the structure of time and experience produce an image that allows us to perceive its distinction from filmic time.
Further west at Marc Foxx is an exhibition of Amalia Pica’s Catachresis series. Catachresis in Greek means a semantic misuse of a word. In her manipulated objects, Pica employs a catachresis of metaphors and figures of speech. For instance, Catchacresis #74 (Teeth of the rake, elbow of the pipe, neck of the bottle), arranges a repurposed beer bottle, a copper pipe fixture, and a handheld, three-pronged rake to allow the objects to perform their anthropomorphized characterizations. The neck’s bottle is long and narrow enough to provide a base from which a right-angled pipe may connect the grip of a rake, endowing these expressions with meaning.
Pica’s carefully chosen figures of speech not only draw our attention to the structural integrity of these objects, but also emphasize the ways in which humans have manifested their everyday objects as extensions of themselves and their bodies. Chairs have backs, arms, and feet, tables have legs, golf clubs have heels, forks have teeth, and shoes have tongues. Her playful consideration of language produces jokes that do not need to be spoken, but that can visually deliver a punch line.