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Art review: Isaac Resnikoff at Steve Turner Contemporary

June 17, 2011 |  8:55 am

Isaac Resnikoff’s modest, black-and-white photographs document a Sisyphean labor he has undertaken for the last two years: building and dismantling a series of houses in the lot behind his studio. To be clear, these structures never progress beyond studs — in their “finished” state, they are skeletons or propositions for houses rather than actual dwellings. On view at Steve Turner Contemporary, they speak to the futility of Resnikoff’s considerable labor, but also to larger issues — dreams of home, as well as the housing boom and bust that shadow our current, straitened economic times.

_MG_6148-copy Titled “The Things That Happened,” the show also includes a hand-carved “boulder” made of aromatic cedar that features a flat, rectangular area on one side. Roughly the size of one of the photographs, this blank spot seems tailor-made for a memorial plaque. Although rather obliquely connected to the photos, the work reinforces a wistful sense of time past. It also makes the room smell like a cedar-lined closet, evoking memories or secrets kept at home.

It’s important that Resnikoff’s buildings are all houses. As follies of a sort, they certainly could have been more fanciful, but the artist’s restraint allows us to see not only the construction work that “happened” but also to imagine other scenarios: the domestic squabbles, compromises, reconciliations that might eventually have taken place within. In this light, Resnikoff’s process of building and un-building takes on elegiac dimensions. If the act of framing a house sets the scene for domestic bliss, strife or ennui, the act of taking it apart suggests the passing of such events into memory.

-- Sharon Mizota

Steve Turner Contemporary, 6026 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 931-3721, through July 9. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photos, from top: "Long House with Covered Porch (Night), 2011.

"The Things That Happened," 2011, Steve Turner Contemporary, Installation view. Credits: From the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. Photo by Wild Don Lewis.