"Space Out, Space In" at Andrew Rafacz Gallery
Scott Wolniak curates videos by Shana Moulton, Ben Russell and other artists.
In episode four of Whispering Pines, artist Shana Moulton’s hypochondriac alter ego, Cynthia, visits a New Age hand-healer to cure her carpal tunnel syndrome. Following a complicated treatment involving a reflexology glove and some comical butterfly face paint, Cynthia metamorphoses into a psychedelically animated dancer who twirls through the California woods.
Moulton named her ongoing lo-fi video series after the trailer park where she grew up, at the edge of California’s Sierra National Forest. Her connection to this setting may be why Cynthia’s ecstatic dance feels sincere. Rather than reading as a heavy-handed critique of spiritualism, or quirky for quirky’s sake, it’s a freewheeling frolic into nostalgic landscapes made new.
The theme of landscape links the ten recent video works in this group exhibition curated by artist Scott Wolniak. Animated Gif of the Day (July 9, 2011) (pictured) explores the slightly warped landscape of artist Thorne Brandt’s imagination. A sun wearing sunglasses, Colonel Sanders, the Crown Fountain and a seemingly infinite number of other elements fill Brandt’s animation, which is so dense and awesomely chaotic that it makes Paper Rad’s work look minimalist. Animated Gif could comment on American excess and the mindless consumption of pop culture, but Brandt, a gifted techie, mostly seems to be having fun.
The opportunities to space out include Ben Russell’s dreamy TRYPPS #7 (BADLANDS), which documents a woman’s LSD trip in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Russell juxtaposes a long take on her face and wind-whipped hair with dizzying shots of wilderness, captured using a spinning double-sided mirror.
Wolniak smartly incorporates a range of approaches and video lengths to sustain viewers’ interest, making “Space Out, Space In” a weird and wonderful 60-minute summer vacay.