Art review: 'Have You Seen Me' at Las Cienegas Projects
The emotional center of “Have You Seen Me,” a whimsical, bittersweet tangle of a group show at Las Cienegas Projects, is not an artwork as such, but an empty chair, just big enough for a child, that is tucked into the hollow of a large wood-and-paper tree trunk.
Curated by Tanya Haden and Anna Oxygen, the show weaves the work of a dozen women artists into what feels like a fairy tale stage set. There are several more trees, between which papier-mâché storybook characters created by Haden mingle with strange plush totem poles by Megan Whitmarsh and a family of Marnie Weber’s marvelously chilling “scarecrows.” One corner is wallpapered to resemble a little girl’s bedroom, with a giant doll whose torso opens to reveal a puppet stage. (Several performances — puppet and otherwise — were held within the installation the night of the opening.) In another corner, Little Red Riding Hood collapses on a bed, out from under which slithers a sparkling green snake by performance artist Johanna Went. Paintings by Haden, Flora Golden and Allison Schulnik dot the walls.
Each of the trees has something tucked inside, but it’s the chair that brings the show together. In clearing the space for an actual child, it grounds what might have been a flippant meditation on female imagination and fantasy in the real sensations of childhood, evoking feelings of loneliness, fear, delight, bafflement and humor. It’s hardly new territory, as the show’s multigenerational nature attests. Handled thoughtfully, however, as it is here, it remains a rich reserve.
-- Holly Myers
Las Cienegas Projects, 2045 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 595-8017, through Nov. 12. Closed Sundays through Tuesdays. www.lascienegasprojects.org