Time Cycles

L.A. Expanded: Notes from the West Coast
A weekly column by Catherine Wagley

Sam Falls, Untitled (West Hollywood, CA. Green), 2011, Hand-dyed green cotton and metal grommets, 10 x 85 feet. Courtesy M+B

That week Pacific Standard Time, SoCal’s Getty-funded, 60-plus institution push to excavate its own post-WWII art history, officially opened, I popped into a gallery showing a great selection of new work by an older artist. Is this an official Pacific Standard Time show, I wanted to know. “I don’t really know what that means,” the director said. ”We never signed any paperwork or anything, but we’re showing an old school artist and putting the PST logo on all our press releases.”  At least his show made sense historically–the artist had been around and working during that 1945-1980 period PST focuses on. But the PST logo is so widespread right now that not all shows labeled “participants” are immediately understandable in relation to SoCal history. It’s become something of a game, trying to guess how and why certain shows might be PST-appropriate.

I wrote about young-ish artist Joel Kyack’s PST -participating show, a spoof on reverence for history, a while back, and another just opened exhibition of new work in West Hollywood uses the “PST” logo to justify an examination of time.

The first work you see in Time and Material at M+B gallery is a big green cotton cloak hanging down from the top left corner above the door. It feels like a mix between a discarded fashion week runway and a construction site. It also makes the door slightly intimidating to walk through, since you’ve got step on and then over the artwork to get into the gallery. This particular work reminds me of Miles Coolidge’s photograph, Hedge, an image of shrubbery that’s overgrown a fence in a neighborhood that otherwise looks flawlessly controlled–it’s ever so slightly uncomfortable.

Miles Coolidge, "Hedge," 2009, Pigment inkjet print, 45 x 60 inches

Past Falls drapery and into the gallery, there’s a collection of small enamel-topped, steel-legged tables by Kyle Thurman, sand bags by Jacob Kassay, and  a worn folded paper by N. Dash. All this seems a bit too intentionally underwhelming, too aware of its own ordinariness, but not so the video by Joe Zorilla in the back room.

Joe Zorrilla, The Cake, 2011, Single channel video projection, 11 minutes 28 seconds edition of 3

In it, Zorrilla cuts a cake that’s sitting out on plywood, removes a piece and then begins to move the remaining pieces, taking them out then replacing them, so that the cake is always a round thing made up of pieces, but it’s being reconfigured again and again. As a metaphor for time, it’s a down to earth one: time keeps cycling through, mussing itself up, reorganizing, and it’ll be doing that for as long as we can imagine.