The Los Angeles Times
July 17th, 2002
‘California Biennial’ Is on the Right Laugh Track
Laughter comes in all shapes and sizes, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the difference between nervous titters, polite ha-has and gleeful giggles. The same goes for the “2002 California Biennial” at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, where slapstick, parody and comic relief compete for your attention. If this user-friendly exhibition, organized by curators Elizabeth Armstrong and Irene Hofmann, had a subtitle, it would be “Gags, Pranks and Jokes.” Its 12 artists use humor to make works whose first priority is to amuse you. A few paintings, sculptures and photographs go further, transforming seemingly mindless entertainment into occasions for sustained contemplation.
Rebecca Bollinger’s 90-minute dual video projection and related prints juxtapose hundreds of thumb-size images. Although both strive to make a virtue of channel surfing, or to turn information downloaded from the Internet into a compositional device, their randomness has more to do with filling up space and killing time than pursuing a compelling inquiry.
Yoshua Okon uses humor to terrifically subversive ends. The best of his four works is “Parking Lotus,” a mockumentary project that records his founding of the Los Angeles Security Guard Meditation Movement.
Holloway specializes in turning the world upside-down, over and over again. The ghost of surrealism- or of a magician’s stage tricks-haunts his “Upsidedown White Rauschenberg,” a boxy sculpture that resembles a voting booth with a gravity-defying chicken walking on its ceiling. In a black-and-white work, a life-size Styrofoam version of Kurt Cobain stares into an architectural rendering of the void. A third, titled “Black to Purple,” consists of a small tree’s limb that Holloway has cut apart and glued back together so that every branch forms a 90-degree angle.