Culture Meets Nature: The great undoing of Catalonian Conceptualist Perejaume's inquiry into the nature/culture split is its lack of inquisitiveness.
In his show at Meyers/Bloom Gallery, culture meets nature only to snatch it up into its omnivorous jaws--no questions asked. Without a second thought, the natural landscape is ground into fertilizer to nourish the artificial landscape of art.
It goes something like this. A small piece of wood covered in gold leaf supports a tidy mound of rich soil. A large, plexiglass vitrine stands in front of a photograph of the same vitrine, posed conspicuously on a grassy hilltop. A floor plan of a Barcelona gallery is juxtaposed with a photo mural of a mountain landscape, onto which the same floor plan has been painted.
Dennis Oppenheim anticipated this latter work in 1969 when he sketched a plan of Cornell University's art gallery onto the field of a nearby bird sanctuary, where it was promptly reconfigured by flocks of disrespectful pigeons. Like the other Earth artists of the 1960s and 1970s, Oppenheim pricked a dialogue between nature and culture in order to break the tyranny of gallery space, escape the commodification of art and explode the fiction of the transcendent art object.
Perejaume, by contrast, seems content to let things rest on the level of the visual conceit--on the geometry of the diagrammatic plan, for instance, versus the irregularity of the Earth's contours.
More generally, Perejaume's work homogenizes all particularities into grist for the artist's mill. Nature and culture alike circle back to their origin and final resting place: the art gallery. Since nature and culture are equally representations, perhaps the gallery is where both belong.
Indeed, unlike Oppenheim et al., who were (in retrospect) naively optimistic, Perejaume acknowledges the impossibility of eluding the overarching reach of the gallery, the linchpin of art's formidable institutional apparatus.
Yet, there is something unappealing about his resignation. It feels less conceptually sophisticated than merely lazy. Perejaume's art is often called "poetic," and there is in fact a certain deftness at play here. But, poetry falls flat without internal tension, and this work is nothing if not overly resolved. \o7 Meyers/Bloom Gallery, 2112 Broadway, Santa Monica, (310) 829-0062, through May 30. Closed Sunday and Monday.