MIchelle Blade | Hanging Fire

THE INSTALLATION OF OAKLAND-BASED ARTIST MICHELLE BLADE’S FIRST SOLO SHOW IN L.A., AT CARTER & CITIZEN, HAS THE DECEPTIVELY HOMEY FEEL OF SOMEONE’S PARENTS’ LIVING ROOM IN A GOTHIC TEENAGE HORROR FILM IN WHICH SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO GO HORRIBLY WRONG. THERE’S A RUG ON THE FLOOR, THERE ARE A FEW POTTED PLANTS, SEVERAL MYSTERIOUSLY UNLABELED URNS, AND PAINTINGS NEATLY HUNG AROUND THE SMALL ROOM.

LINGER FOR MORE THAN A MOMENT OR TWO, HOWEVER, AND UNSETTLING DETAILS BEGIN TO EMERGE, SUGGESTING THAT CATASTROPHE HAS ALREADY SET IN. THE PLANTS ARE SPRAY-PAINTED BLUE. THE RUG, ACTUALLY ACRYLIC PAINT ON MYLAR, DEPICTS A KALEIDOSCOPIC PATTERN OF BODY PARTS. THE PAINTINGS — SMALL, MOODY WATERCOLORS DEPICTING SHADOWY FIGURES AND ANIMALS — COME FROM A SERIES TITLED “366 DAYS OF THE APOCALYPSE” (ONE FOR EVERY DAY — PLUS ONE APPARENTLY OF THE PURPORTEDLY APOCALYPTIC YEAR 2012), WHILE THE URNS, WE’RE TOLD, CONTAIN THE ASHES OF OTHER, LESS FORTUNATE WATERCOLORS.

IT’S AN APPEALING PIECE OF NEO-PSYCHEDELIC THEATER, A LITTLE VAGUE IN ITS IMPORT BUT WITH INTONATIONS OF EXISTENTIAL CONTEMPLATION. AT THE FRONT OF THE GALLERY, INSTALLED AGAINST THE GLOW OF THE WINDOW, A 6-FOOT-TALL, FREE-HANGING MYLAR PAINTING OF A SILHOUETTED COUPLE WALKING HAND IN HAND INTO THE LIGHT OFFERS AN OBLIQUE GESTURE OF HOPE. SOMEONE, AT LEAST, MAKES IT OUT ALIVE. - BY HOLLY MYERS




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