All I Want Is Everything
small A Projects, 1430 SE 3rd, through Nov 5
Last Friday, small A Projects opened its doors in the former Savage Art Resources space with All I Want Is Everything, a group show of seven emerging national artists. The new gallery has an ambitious agenda that includes large installations lectures, and screenings. small A director and owner Laurel Gitlen—who also was Savage's director, in addition to co-organizing this year's Affair at the Jupiter Hotel—believes this to programming will help "cater to the young and very art-savvy audience that exists here, without sacrificing any seriousness in terms of art."
In a strong and stylish initial fulfillment of that mission statement, Gitlen brings a strong sense of thematic focus to All I Want, which explores rock 'n' roll and heavy metal subcultures from every conceivable angle, including viewing them as a contemporary Western ritual for undermining the gravity of death. To represent said ritual, Los Angeles-based artist Amy Sarkisian presents two skulls, each of which has been decorated with plastic jewelry and sparkling sequins. Her skulls suggest that all the leather, eye-liner, and flowing manes of metal culture little more than an elaborate game of dress-up to playfully recast death as romantic or sexy. But in the rough craters of the skulls' eye sockets, the viewer gets a more realistic peek into the black hole of death, as something dark and unknowable.
Elsewhere in All I Want, rock 'n' roll becomes a formative rite of passage. New Yorker Erik Hanson has created five stump-like sculptures that occupy a corner of the gallery like a miniature clear-cut. But the "rings" of these stumps are actually the grooves of specific records faintly etched into the sculptures' surfaces. So, for example, Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures LP is represented as an artifact so foundational to the artist's growth that it has become an inextricable part of his identity. The sculptures, like all the pieces in All I Want, go well beyond Hanson's personal relationship to music—they are symptomatic of an entire generation whose ideological DNA has been defined by music videos, mix tapes, and song lyrics.