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THE ART GALLERIES

Santa Monica

October 09, 1987|COLIN GARDNER

Chris Burden's explorations of violence have shifted from literal attacks on his own body to more metaphorical indictments of society's bent for self-destruction. The latter have often taken the form of wargame installations, where miniatures take the place of real tanks and missiles and the art gallery stands in for the global combat zone.

Appropriately titled "All of the Submarines of the United States of America," Burden's latest installation consists of one generic miniature cardboard submarine for each sub commissioned by the United States. Created in collaboration with New City Editions, 625 models are suspended by wires from the gallery ceiling so that the entire effect resembles a massive school of fish floating in space. An accompanying file-folder presents historical details on launch dates, armament and personnel.

The results are politically and aesthetically self-reinforcing, transforming simple objective documentation into pure spectacle (a wry comment on the seductive powers of art and war), while also using the concept of the graphic limited edition (each sub could be read as a 3-D monoprint) to parallel the customized production line of the war machine itself.

Also on display is an impressive series of casein-on-wood paintings by New York-based abstractionist Moira Dryer. At first glance, the works appear to be yet another example of Neo-Geo simulation, drawing upon the early Formalism of Stella, the signature stripes of Daniel Buren and the anti-original neutrality of Sherrie Levine.

Closer viewing reveals an innate organic quality that exploits the natural grain and finish of the materials, as well as references to fingerprint patterns and landscapes. More interestingly, by floating the works away from the wall as objects rather than images, Dryer is able to exploit some of Robert Ryman's investigations into support structures and sculptural surfaces, imbuing her work with enough contradictions to elicit the label, "organic formalism." (HoffmanBorman Gallery, 912 Colorado Ave, to Oct. 31.)

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