America's Status: That Falling Feeling

August 26, 2005 | David Pagel

Art and politics often mix like oil and water. That's not the case with the works in No Man's Land, a thoughtful exhibition in which melancholy and hope are subtly interwoven to suggest that the United States' position in the global landscape has shifted -- for better and for worse -- from ascendancy to decline.

Organized by guest curator Sara Pironti for the Shoshana Wayne Gallery, the seven-artist show features a large room displaying sculptures and drawings flanked by two darkened spaces, each showing a projected video. A solitary painting hangs in the entryway. The videos set the tone for the evocative ensemble, which is pointed but not preachy, sobering but not joyless.

In the side gallery just off the entryway is a seven minute, two-screen video by T.V. Moore. It shows a weary soldier, in helmet and fatigues, running through the streets of a modern city with a boombox balanced on his shoulder. Passersby pay no attention fo the wayward GI, whose pedestrian activity looks increasingly Sisyphean -- and not all that different from some of the things homeless people do, all but invisibly to most everyone else.

In the back gallery, a 15 minute video, Mooncussers, by Jed Lind follows the horizons of desert, mountain and seashore vistas as a man reads from what seems to be the journals of folks who live like Robinson Crusoe, foraging along coastlines for flotsam and jetsam from ships, shipwrecks and plane crashes. The camera pans slowly, at a soothing pace that is interrupted every 360 degrees, where the horizon appears to be discontinuous, broken, as if by an earthquake.

Scavenger- inspired sculptures by Ryan Taber and Cheyenne Weaver create similar ruptures in time space. The artists craft customized models and 3-D diagrams deftly combining scale shifts, genres, types of representation, academic disciplines and historical eras in rich stews of narrative possibility.

Yoko Iida's crumpled wallpaper-scale drawing and Tyler Rowland's pile of yard sale leftovers, all spray-painted gold, lack the complexity of the best works. The only painting, Lisa Sanditz's picture of an overdecorated cave, almost gets lost amid the generally large works. But "No Man's Land" is about not belonging, so the little painting makes odd sense, fitting in by standing out.

Los Angeles Times, 2005