Los Angeles Times

Calendar / Arts and Entertainment
July 21st, 2000

In Progress:

Siobhan Liddell’s Projects show at the UCLA Hammer Museum, part of a new series to highlight contempo­rary artists, has the indefinite air of, indeed, a project—something worked on, planned, schematized, rather than something resolved or complete. Mostly, this works against the installation of wall drawings, glass and papier-mâché objects. Though the Show has a few compelling qualities, the over­all effect adds up to less than the sum of its individual parts—syn­ergy in reverse.

Occupying the museum’s Vault gallery, Liddell’s installation makes stunning use of the room’s high ceiling and curved back wall. The British-born, New York-based artist has drawn a fractured sunburst of yellow rays directly on the wall. Its short strokes radiate the intense en­ergy of a force field, with a power­fully pulsing center and echoing rings that quiet as they fade into the room’s side walls. A trace of gold residue from the drawing dusts the floor below, and a long, yellow glass cylinder rests there as well, a mys­teriously solid beam of light.

On the opposite wall, Liddell draws similar patterns of spiraling rays. But in graphite on hanging rolls of paper, the images read as inert and inconsequential. White, fossil-like forms mounted at vari­ous heights on the wall bear the imprint of manual effort, the pressing of fingers, the gripping and shaping of the papier-mâché mixed with plaster, clay and gesso.

Two crimson upholstered wedges in the center of the gallery invite visitors to get comfortable while ex­periencing the space. With some patience and persistence, one can start to make out a soundtrack that plays intermittent repetitive sounds—sawing? breathing? birds calling?—but they are as over­whelmed by the Westwood traffic noise outside as the objects inside. Lacking any real density of sensa­tion, they are dwarfed by the poten­tial of the empty space around them.

•UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., through Sept. 17