State of Affairs

at Savage Art Resources, 1430 SE 3rd, through May 14

I n his first public project since his departure from PICA in February, Stuart Horodner returns with State of Affairs, a group show that begs the question "what does it mean to be 'in the world' right now?" Featuring artists from Portland, Houston, Chicago, New York, and Victoria, B.C., State of Affairs is alternately political, erotic, despondent, and satirical. With our country's state of political affairs, it would have been easy for this show to dissolve into knee-jerk reactionism, but Horodner avoids this narrower focus to include personal and social investigations, as well as more traditional political pieces.

Even the show's overtly political works rely on humor, comic book, and video game imagery to state their cases. Jubilation, one of Daniel Duford's best wall drawings to date, depicts one of his signature Hulk-sized golems rampaging over a fiery carnage while a frenzied crowd revels in the background. The allusion to Fallujah is unmistakable, but the most fascinating detail is the golem's shirt, whose sleeve is pinned up at the shoulder, where his arm was amputated VFW-style. Barbara Pollack's two-channel video America's Army shows an Army-issued shoot-em-up video game and a close-up of the mesmerized adolescent controlling the Army's interactive enticement.

In other works themes of desire and alienation weigh heavily. Marne Lucas, a local photographer best known for her alterna-glam sexy nudes, displays an installation of mirrored self-portraits that spans eight years. With transformative appearances in scenarios that range from fashionable to outhouse, one detects a true sense of searching for belonging in the world. John Sparagana's heavily fatigued advertisements from Vanity Fair manifest a delicate decay of bourgeois desires. Michael Bise's detailed, cartoony pencil drawings are the most pleasurable works in State of Affairs. Occupying ground between Calvin & Hobbes and Larry Clark's film Bully, his cross sections of middleclass domestic America ring true to their sharpest detail, and are surprising in their frank displays of teenage sex and drug use. The drawings combine themes of religion, thrill-chasing, consumerism, adolescent fears, and dejection, but are executed in a loopy, happy style. This disjunction of private reality and public facade may be the key to investigating what exactly it means to be "in the world." CHAS BOWIE State of Affairs