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Karen Yasinsky

February 9, 2002 - May 5, 2002

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In the lobby gallery, Karen Yasinsky exhibited a project entitled Still Life with Cows, which includes an animated video and related works on paper. Using hand-made dolls and sets and stop-action animation she creates a surreal yet somewhat familiar environment where two female figures explore the everyday 'nothingness' of domestic life, desire and relationships.

Hammer Projects are curated by James Elaine.

About the Exhibition

By Laurie Simmons

 

An uneasy wind blows through Karen Yasinsky's animated films. It rustles clothing indoors and makes green grass wiggle in unnatural ways. It sends tumbleweed rolling east and west. A sense of dislocation and a disturbing tranquility share a stage where everything is in constant motion or very, very still. Her characters are awkward and anatomically incorrect, and sometimes you can see up their skirts. Their arms and legs twitch restlessly, and then suddenly they stand up and twirl like jewelry-box ballerinas. There is no storyboard, no dialogue. Silence and sound alternate, forming a conversation of their own, while the music is most often a chorus of otherworldly voices and instruments - a fitting accompaniment for the ragtag band of magical homemade figures that form Yasinsky's cast.

 

The opening scene of still life with cows finds a pastoral Wyoming landscape with perfect blue sky. Birds sing and a distant drum beats rhythmically. Two clay-headed women with molded hairdos and colorful print cotton dresses lie in the grass restlessly looking at the sky. Are they sisters? Friends? Lovers? Cut to scene two: The Den. The den has everything it needs - wooden paneled walls, an orange recliner, a beige shag rug, a tiny TV - and yet feels painfully bare. The one piece of art on the wall is a photograph that describes a barren airport landscape. Ms. Brunette-in-a-geometric-print-dress sits in her orange chair wiggling uncomfortably and abruptly tips face-forward onto the shag rug. This sudden fall is reminiscent of the neglected baby who rolls off the ironing board in Yasinsky's first film, DROP THAT BABY AGAIN(1998): a suprising plop in the middle of domestic harmony. Scene three: blue sky, green grass, and voices crooning la-la sounds worthy of a 1960s girl group. Ms. Blonde-in-a-floral-print-dress rests her head on Ms. Brunette's tummy. It is the most beautiful summer day of your life from a not-too-distant past when you could lie in the grass without shoes, without sunscreen, without fear. The dreamy angel voices, the balmy air lull you to a near doze, and then you find yourself abruptly back in the den. Eventually we realize that Ms. Brunette can't walk. We sense that it's a kind of paralyzing vertigo rather than a disability. Ms. Blonde, by contrast, has it all: stature, confidence, and secret smooches for the donkey head that mysteriously appears in a chair. The donkey's silent murmurings seem to finally coax Ms. Brunette to crawl out of the stifling room. More

 

Hammer Projects are made possible, in part, with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

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