Soundvision, 625 NW Everett #108, 238-7007, through May 24
Local artist Laura Fritz delivers a disturbing and fascinating installation, Indication 2, in Soundvision's darkened front gallery. A series of thin black tables fill the space, their contents suggesting a dark, futuristic fetish laboratory. One table holds a cluster of translucent, jelly-like pods that one can easily imagine growing and multiplying out of control. Another table sports yards and yards of medical tubing and a plastic bag containing a urine-like substance.
One original creation from this exhibit will undoubtedly turn up in future nightmares--a clump of hair, dotted with mysterious white droplets that lurches, crawls, and rolls around, as if trying to gather the momentum to hop off the table and realize its latent, evil intentions. How Fritz made this stomach-churning kinetic hairball I don't know, nor do I want to know. The moment that I first saw Indication 2 in Soundvision's darkened gallery is an experience that I will remember for a very long time.
Should one feel the need to sit down after Fritz's clinical mindfuck, check out J. Frede's Selected Phonographies in the back room. 24 tiny speakers, stripped to their barest states, dangle from the ceiling, looking like a suite of limp stethoscopes. Frede's hour-long opus takes the listener through a whispery tour of Bees on a Sunday Afternoon in Griffith Park, Church Bells in the Morning, and A Search Helicopter Flying Over My House. Separated into three channels, the audio track assumes sculptural properties as one moves throughout the space.
Soundvision's commitment to audio-based artists from outside of the region is already laudable, and when such efforts are coupled with knock-out solo shows like Fritz's current installation, the results are nothing short of magnificent. CHAS BOWIE
Paul Ramirez Jonas
PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson, 226-4391, through June 14
The Earth Seen From Above, Paul Ramirez Jonas' solo exhibition at PNCA's Feldman Gallery, explores themes of globalism and exploration with an unhurried sense of lackadaisical resignation. At it's centerpiece is Rocinante, a marvelous contraption resembling a satellite constructed from paint buckets, a reassembled drum set, and 20 bucks worth of Radio Shack gadgetry. At 40-minute intervals, Rocinante launches into a blaring tambourine and calliope version of It's a Small World After All, only to quickly fall dormant once the tune is over. Album: 50 State Summits is an incomplete photo series showing the artist at the geographical apex of approximately one-third of the nation's states. The rest are left blank, the most mountainous states conspicuously uncharted. Six computer printouts from a Connecticut travel agency compose the self-explanatory Magellan's Itinerary--a Reproduction. Jonas' point is driven home when one tries imagining Magellan jet-setting from Santiago to the Christmas Islands, or stuck in an airport in Jakarta.
While Jonas' artwork looks professionally crafted, with no sense of abject slackerism, his half-hearted attitude permeates the work. Messages like "I could pay somebody to fly me around the world like Magellan, but won't," and "Every American peak has been climbed, and even a guy like me can do it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet" seem curiously lethargic in the face of his ambitious scope. Perhaps this is the personal and cultural attitude towards which he aims to draw attention. CHAS BOWIE
Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 207 SW Pine, 224-0521
To use Matthew Barney as the most brightly shining example, it's clear that Productionism has emerged as the leading artistic criteria valued by the art patrons, museums and magazines, and (wealthy) collectors. What seems to matter more than meaningfulness or honesty is a monumental, quasi-Hollywoodian effort that results in a dazzling, Technicolor spectacle. It is no wonder, then, that a show of drawings, that most direct and humble medium, can be as refreshing as a Hemingway story after a summer of reading Joyce.
On Paper at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, celebrates contemporary drawing with works on paper by heavyweights such as Bruce Conner and Claes Oldenburg (young international artists who remind us that Louise Bourgeois remains the most influential of all contemporary pen and inkers), and a ten-foot fold-out from an artist book by Russell Crotty, who was featured in last Fall's "Drawing Now" at MoMA. Most charming, however, are the multi-media drawings mounted onto canvas by Moldovan artist Stas Orlovski. His seductive and tactile floral scenes come alive with insects and curious, disembodied eyeballs. Reminiscent of a Victorian Andre Breton, Orlovski's works on paper are whimsical and wonderful to behold. CHAS BOWIE