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MARTIN KERSELS; "LOUD HOUSE AND OTHER NEW WORK": DAN BERNIER GALLERY * SHARON LOCKHART; "GOSHOGAOKA": MOCA * LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

sharon lockhart
Sharon Lockhart, Goshogaoka


Manifestations of states of pure physicality form the essence of the distinctly different new work of these two Los Angeles based artists--the first, an installation of multimedia work by Martin Kersels at Dan Bernier Gallery (the inaugural exhibition of his new space on Wilshire Boulevard), the other a 63 minute, 16mm film entitled Goshogaoka by Sharon Lockhart (which is currently being screened at venues internationally including showings at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Toyko Museum of Contemporary Art, The ICA in London, as well as the Sundance and Rotterdam Film Festivals-among other locations).

In "Loud House" Kersels has placed within the center of the gallery confines, a large shack over 13 feet in height and 15 feet wide, made of corrugated metal, wood, and plastic. The structure is sealed so that entry from the outside is not possible. Perched upon the rear exterior of the shack's roof is a monitor which projects a 13 minute videotape of the artist (well recognized from his other performance and photographic works as an extremely hefty man standing 6 foot 7 inches and weighing over 300 pounds) shown in various states of movement. His (seemingly) loosely choreographed motions, range from quiet fluidity to intense, awkward, quickly paced clog stomping in a circular configuration, and lastly depict him in a sequence of swirling around and around. While the video animates these shifting actions, the interior of the house, equipped with amplifiers and special speakers called "Bass Shakers", loudly emanate the sound of the activity as simultaneously projected--causing the shack to rattle and shake with a tumultuous volume of noise and force--that at moments reach a near deafening crescendo. The enigmatically static presence of the shack combined with the compelling, lumbering sequence of movements and concurrent sound effects set the stage for a jarring awareness of one's own physical presence. Two other sound oriented assemblage apparatuses in this show, entitled "Wormdrive Sound" and "Stream Heat Wind," are more subtle in nature. They examine and reveal the properties of sound, one in a mechanized fashion and the other simulating the imperceptible noise that would potentially be found in the organic process of decay, distinct from the clamor of human intervention and activity. Scattered throughout the installation of works in the show are a series of photos documenting the artist being "smacked" by friends. These violently physical images intensify the sense of volatility and spontaneity that dominate so many of the interactions which are the subverted undercurrent of much of daily experience, among both intimates, as well as inhabitants of the arena of society at large.

In Sharon Lockhart's significant film Goshogaoka there exists both a contrast and surprising synergy in relation to the clamorous appeal of Kersels' three dimensionally staged work. Filmed in its entirety during a single day at a suburban middle school gymnasium in Japan, it is cast solely with the school's female basketball team going through six 10 minute segments, enacting a series of practice "drills" and exercise routines. These activities have been interpreted through a filter of studied movement, specifically associated with the haute couture runway shows of Japanese fashion designers Comme des Garçons and Issaye Miyake. Throughout the duration of the film the camera position itself never changes, rather, it steadily tracks the graceful and beautifully natural choreography of the 20 or so Japanese girls in a Zen-like manner--with their collective movement coming and going in and out of the immovable frame. While many of the exercises have the girls engaged in synchronized formations, there is an underlying asymmetry, frailty, and fallibility which displays a poignant, humble sense of humanity and individuality. The delicate gestures of these young Asian women reveal a strength and energy equally potent to that articulated by Kersels' imposing Nordic figure. Likewise, it is through witnessing his unwieldy form slipping into states of faltering which become the most compelling moments of his performance.

Both projects profoundly articulate metaphorically, though plainly, the shifting states of being, between balance and imbalance, each conveyed impartially without judgment, as they are inherent in the actions of living, breathing, performing, resting, interacting, and so on.

Jane Hart

Los Angeles, California

1998


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