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Art review: Rachel Harrison at Regen Projects

July 2, 2010 |  2:30 pm
400.2010-RPII-install-01 Rachel Harrison’s first solo show in Los Angeles — “asdfjkl;” — is among the most appropriately titled exhibitions of the season. More concerned with dotting its I’s and crossing its Ts than with saying much that is meaningful, it’s an academic exercise that wants nothing more than to fit into established trends (a.k.a., the dominant art discourse).

The problem with art designed to fit into trends is that it looks old the moment it’s made. That may make some viewers feel a warm rush of insider comfort, but it takes the adventure, fun and crunch out of art. It also makes for works with very short shelf lives.

300.RHa-114 At Regen Projects, the New York artist’s sculptures, collages and video come off as tidied-up, watered-down reworkings of other artist’s styles. Think Franz West minus the humor, hilarity and high jinks. Or a Jessica Stockholder installation that has been made over into the window display of a Beverly Hills boutique. Or a Katie Grinnan sculpture that has had its invigorating kinks ironed out, its loose ends tied down and its rough edges smoothed over.

Harrison’s art embodies a type of institutional formalism that does not look beyond the top tier of the international art world, where being noncommittal is regularly mistaken for being cool. Being cool actually means being committed to something different, unconventional, independent. That’s why Harrison’s art is lukewarm.

– David Pagel

Regen Projects, 633 Almont Drive, (310) 276-5424, through July 10. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.regenprojects.com

Images: Installation view (top) and an untitled work. Courtesy of Regan Projects.
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