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Art review: Michele O'Marah at Kathryn Brennan

January 15, 2010 |  5:00 pm


400.1Triptych Over the last half-decade, a new genre of art has emerged: videos that would look better on YouTube than in galleries. Before then, this category was occupied by art that would be better as a book than as an exhibition.

Michele O'Marah's raucous yet unsatisfying exhibition at Kathryn Brennan Gallery @ Cottage Home has one foot firmly planted in each of these genres.

Her three video vignettes, projected on three walls, have their moments, particularly the scene in "The Death of Barb Kopetski" that could be a U.S. military recruiting advertisement gone horribly wrong, and another in "Don't Call Me Babe," chronicling a campy shoot-out in a rundown apartment. On the whole, however, O'Marah's videos make B-movies seem to be unattainable ideals, too polished and professional to be worth the trouble.

Her tongue-in-cheek send-ups would be just as engaging on a monitor. And the sculptural components of O'Marah's exhibition– including props, sets, digital prints illuminated by light-boxes and gobs of fake blood –are flat-out forgettable.

400.Barb-Medium_email More interesting are the sources she draws on. Her videos re-create scenes from "Barb Wire," a 1996 film based on a graphic novel and starring Pamela Anderson. Set in the future, in the aftermath of a second civil war, the critically panned box-office flop features revolutionaries, neo-fascists and nudity – sex and death and not much else. This is the part of O'Marah's overblown installation that might make for an interesting read, an essay if not a book.

Kathryn Brennan Gallery @ Cottage Home, 410 Cottage Home St., Los Angeles 90012, through Feb. 6. Closed Sundays and Mondays. (213) 628-7000. www.kathrynbrennan.com

– David Pagel

Images: Three Barbs (Amber, Emily and Trish), 2010 (top). Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer.   And detail from "Resistance and Charlie are Killed," 2009. Both courtesy of Kathryn Brennan Gallery.

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