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Art Review: Jedediah Caesar, 'Mango Obstruction' at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

February 10, 2011 |  6:45 pm

Jedediah Caesar Installation Jedediah Caesar slices and dices solidified chunks of garbage for two very good reasons. The results, scattered all over two large galleries at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, are fun to see. They also give visitors lots to think about, particularly in terms of the fate of humanity and the prospects for the planet. Your imagination leaps into action before Caesar’s sculptures, whose strength resides in not forcing issues but leaving people free to come to their own conclusions.

Just about everything in Caesar’s exhibition, “Mango Obstruction,” was cut from a solid 2½-ton block. In the old days, sculptors turned to nature for their materials, carving stone to create their works. In contrast, the “stone” Caesar starts with is made in a huge rectangular mold, which he filled with detritus scavenged from industrial dumps and urban garbage heaps: PVC pipes, shredded tires, carpet padding, fiberglass insulation, aluminum straps, broken glass and splintered plywood.

When the mold could hold no more, Caesar poured in several hundred gallons of urethane, filling every nook and cranny with the toxic liquid that swiftly turned solid. The big brick then sat on a street corner in Culver City before it was shipped to the Netherlands, where it stood in the countryside as part of another exhibition.

Caesar finally sent it to an industrial mill in Los Angeles, where technicians used a heavy duty band-saw to slice it into smaller sections, including a 4-by-2-foot block, dozens of 7-foot-long strips, hundreds of 8-inch bricks and more than 75 page-size slices, each of which is about ¼-inch thick.

Arranged in grids on the walls, these multi-panel pieces recall MRI scans, frames of time-lapse films and abstract paintings. Caesar’s 3-D pieces recall petrified forests and fossil-filled rocks. Together, they invite us to look at the present from a perspective far off in the future, when all that is left of civilization is its unrecyclable ruins. It’s not a pretty picture. But it is realistic. And loaded.

-- David Pagel

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-2117, through March 12. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photo: Jedediah Caesar, installation view, "Mango Obstruction." Credit: Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects