December 17th, 2014

“Artificial Complexion” at Various Small Fires

"Artificial Complexion" at Various Small Fires

Artists: Liz Craft, Matt Damhave, Gruppo UFO, K8 Hardy, Marie Karlberg, Alison Knowles, Jason Loebs, The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Sean Raspet, Carissa Rodriguez, Kathleen Ryan, Amy Yao

Venue: Various Small Fires, Los Angeles

Exhibition Title: Artificial Complexion

Date: November 15 – December 20, 2014

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"Artificial Complexion" at Various Small Fires

Kathleen Ryan

"Artificial Complexion" at Various Small Fires

Full gallery of video, audio, images, press release and link available after the jump.


Marie Karlberg, documentation of 6 People 93 Comments, 2014, performance


Listen: Dick Higgins with performers Alison Knowles, Beckett Gookin, Jessica Higgins, Kirby Gookin, Larry Miller, Nancy Hwang, Noura Al-Salem, and Taketo Shimada, “Danger Music #2,” 1961 [recorded 2005], 8 min. 19 sec. 

Listen: Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, “L’amiral cherche une maison à louer,” date unknown, 2 min. 34 sec. 

Listen: Lucky Dragons, “Alien Point of View (Nervous Gender),” 2011, 5 min. 40 sec.

Listen: Alison Knowles with Nelson Loskamp, “Nivea Cream Piece,” 1962 [recorded 2005], 5 min. 22 sec. 

Listen: Mark So, “though we haven’t read it, we know there is a script,” [So reading Eileen Myles’ “The End of New England”], 2012-13, 45 min. 55 sec. 


Images, video and audio courtesy of Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Photos by Michael Underwood.

Press Release:

You–country lout–trying to step into tights.
Juggle words–as balls–about feelings–impressions–
such you have–no art!
No rhythm–curves–science–conviction–background–tradition!
Where your circus?
Where do you stand?
What do your words mean?
Never to point–what point?
There is none–carry no meaning–aimed at blank!
– The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, The Little Review 8, no. 1 (Autumn 1921)

How does one approach an art practice that is not precipitated by various binaries? A practice whose mere existence complicates its dominant neutered doppelgänger? Perhaps one way to start is by exploring alterna- tive historical precedents—those previously hidden away— which is why we began looking at the work of The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

While eventually rejected by her Dadaist peers, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, a German bohemian who fled to America, singularly undermined the cool logic of the ready-made by intervening with found objects through personal actions of deformation, defacement, or defamation—carving out possibilities for individual action in a materialist world. While her more famous, male counterparts merely attempted to expose convention, she lived and practiced its antithesis thereby laying bare the very limits they were trying to overcome.

Like the work of Freytag-Loringhoven, the contemporary practices presented in this exhibition reveal a direct relationship and sensitive perception to the unfolding possibilities of found objects. Casually antagonistic and intrapersonal, they activate change instead of waiting for explanation. Be it the textiles of Matt Damhave and Marie Karlberg, the glamorous preserved decay of Amy Yao’s assemblages, the weathered receipts of Jason Loebs, or the hanging event threads by Alison Knowles, the works avoid immediate visual clarity, instead inviting allegorical and actual connections. Here the index of association and particularity is not cloaked in a sleek veneer but floats visibly upon playful surfaces.

These surfaces are at times difficult, as in the seductive yet impossible appropriated ceramic forms of Carissa Rodriguez, and at others whimsical, as with Kathleen Ryan’s dramatic enlargement of discarded eyeglasses and post-feast detritus wine fountain. Whether Liz Craft’s toothy, smiling, greedy ceramic tile or K8 Hardy’s suggestions of a diehard future-forward existence, each piece transcends their individual elements to create a new language and relationship with the world. In this resistance to the cycle of conformity, Artificial Complexion reveals the continued pertinence of personal interventions with and against found objects.

In addition to the above works, Sarah Rara, Luke Fischbeck, and John Tain will curate a rotating selection of rarely heard historical Dada and Fluxus pieces and complementary contemporary audio works for the VSF sound corridor.

Link: “Artificial Complexion” at Various Small Fires

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