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Art review: 'Weird Walks Into a Room (Comma)' at the Box

June 23, 2011 |  5:00 pm

Conaway_V 2011 17 x 22 in Sarah Conaway and Lisa Williamson collaborate on a show at the Box filled with skimpy gestures and slight concepts. The strongest of the photographs and sculptures begin to measure up to the show’s quirky and endearing title, “Weird Walks Into a Room (Comma),” but the largely unremarkable parts add up to an unsatisfying whole.

Conaway’s photographs apply a clean, Weimar-era objectivity to mundane objects in static, tabletop configurations: snippets of wire aligned in a row, paper cut and folded, small styrofoam columns arranged in a grid. In one image, a torn strip of raw canvas loops and bunches into a loose mass vaguely resembling a head. The picture — quasi-portrait, semi-still life, a photograph of the material ground for painting — elicits a faint charge, a hint of latency, but it takes an interpretive stretch to get there.

Williamson’s sculptures are comparably spare, understated and underdeveloped. “Flat Pants!” offers a cute visual joke.

20110613_box_2artists_008 “A Highly Articulate Step” has a bit more charm as well as complexity. Its narrow banner of painted pictographs, unfurling from high on the wall, down along a protruding plinth, down onto the floor, suggests a coded ticker-tape or DIY language machine. “Top Down,” a joint effort by the L.A.-based artists, consists of a low platform scattered with assorted scraps of fabric, paper, burlap and wire, minimally altered, preciously arranged. A random assembly of sculptural jottings, the installation gives disproportionate permanence to a flimsy, fleeting idea.

-- Leah Ollman

The Box, 977 Chung King Road, (213) 625-1747, through July 9. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.theboxla.com/

Photos, from top: Sarah Conaway, "V"; Lisa Williamson, "A Highly Articulate Step." From the Box.

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