Editorial : Recommendations
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Nancy Buchanan and "Black Mirror"
Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Jody Zellen / Genie Davis

Nancy Buchanan, “Consumption” installation view, 2017

Highly respected not only as an artist, Nancy Buchanan is also a writer, curator and educator. Known for her performance and video-based works and her feminist activism, she has mastered various media over time — video, performance, photography, collage, drawing and installation —  in order to raise awareness of contemporary political and social issues. Her current exhibition, titled “Consumption,” includes selections of both older and newer works. These pieces trace her concerns and methodologies and include images from both her “50 Shades of Cake” and “It's About Time” series. Buchanan’s photographs and collages are tongue-in-cheek critiques of different aspects of consumer culture. In “50 Shades of Cake” she presents desaturated photographs of decorated cakes that are intended to suggest, according to Buchanan, the rapaciousness of consumer appetite. The collages on reflective mylar from “It's About Time” are more about branding and status. These thoughtful works poke fun at consumer culture while simultaneously implicating the viewer. 


Politics and culture are deeply entwined these days, and nowhere is that more evident than in the variety of works curated by Julia Schwartz in “Black Mirror.” The thirteen participating artists include curator Schwartz, Andrea Marie Breiling, Dani Dodge, Kio Griffith, Karl Haendel, Kenyatta AC Hinkle, Cole M James, Elana Mann, Abdul Mazid, Thinh Nguyen, Warren Neidich, Claudia Parducci, and Thaddeus Strode. Painting, drawing, photography, video, and installation works examine and document the state of our nation and our people. The title, taken from the dystopian television series of the same name, captures the exhibition’s goal: to examine technology, social media, and how these accepted elements of our daily lives can control us.


Works such as Dani Dodge’s sorrow-filled installation “Ruins” speaks of a lost or crumbling civilization. Abdul Mazid’s faceless, three-dimensional burka serves as a universal carapace from which any and every being may emerge. Schwartz’s watery and impressionistic “Parade Ends” depicts a double yellow sun above flowering trees that could represent clouds cast from exploded bombs; motion-capturing lines indicate the reverberating sound of an explosion. Kio Griffith’s burnt and stained book is an amalgam of cultures bound together, English text on the left, Japanese characters on the right. Claudia Parducci’s “Where to Run” is a watercolor and pencil work that literally and figuratively maps out the lack of options for retreat. “Black Mirror” offers a provocative and reflective look at today’s world.

Charlie James Gallery

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