Special K Exhibitions, Los Angeles
In "Water in a Straitjacket," Terri Friedman's show at Special K Exhibitions,she has successfully added to the ideas that surround her earlier fountainpieces. The terrain covered in phew, noise, and grandma is pregnant (eachfrom 1997) is a thrill. It's a world of artificial environments, pumping andrecirculating, full of visual nourishment. Her fascination for and utilizationof colored liquid, plastic, vinyl, and other aquarium and pond supplies in thesculptural realm, results in her strongest work in this exhibition. The workconjures up memories of Slurpee afternoons, aquamarine tongues, sugar highs,and citric acid stomachs gnawing into the evening, having spent too muchallowance at the 7-11.
In the center of the main gallery, phew splashes with meditative repetition.Made of a fabricated aluminum bowl the size of a small hot tub (but not asdeep), it is filled with a Gatorade-green liquid. The liquid is pumped up fromthe bowl to the ceiling through tubing which is covered with hand stitched,baby-blue plush blanket fabric. The liquid fills a long, clear poly sleevesuspended directly over the aluminum bowl. At the end of the sleeve, a clearPlexiglas device opens on a timer, allowing the liquid in the bag to splashsuddenly into the bowl. The result is a futuristic and apocalyptic punch bowl.Is phew the instrument for a Jim Jones-style mass suicide?
Also in the main gallery, noise lightly catches the eye. Hung on the wall atknee height, a clear Plexiglas holder (much like an enlarged paper towel rack) skewers a ball of clear tangled tubing. Silver glitter dances its way throughthe tubing; the little piece hums with contentment, ever recirculating theglittery water through its Gordian Knot. Step around the wall and you see theworkings of this piece: a clear five-gallon bucket filled with water andglitter, a pump, and a motor with a stirrer. Back on the other side,one can stand and watch the movement--much the way one remembers beinghypnotized by the Slurpee machine turning colored ice around and around on ahot summer day.
In the upstairs project room, grandma is pregnant reflects phew's liquidmeditation. The tabloid title speaks to our ever-present need for a freakshow. Constructed of a clear plastic ball the size of a full-term belly, grandma sits on a clear vinyl circle. The ball is a third full of anorange/rust colored clear liquid. Submerged in the liquid, a pond light glows alongside a black pump. Every few seconds, a black sprinkler head sprays theinside surface of the ball--again reminiscent of the recirculated drinkmachines of the mini-mart. On top of the ball is a finely-knit baby-blue cap.This stocking cap of sorts covers foam and wiring that lead like an umbilicalcord to the wall's power plug. Like phew and noise, grandma is pregnantis a self-serving saccharin oasis.These sculptures have a whimsical absurdity to them, a spirit of childish play.Because they successfully capture the tinkering and inventing of uninhibitedkids, Friedman's water works have an immediate accessibility to them. The workis strongly appealing, with a hint of nostalgia mixed in, when there was nogreater thrill in childhood than making potions. However, Friedman seems to know thatchild's play can turn wicked in an instant. She draws us in with the playful,then stings us with the sinister. It's like being tickled: It starts out asfun which quickly becomes rough and frenzied.
Los Angeles, California