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Art Reviews

October 14, 1994|SUSAN KANDEL

Team Players: Like All-American ghosts, nine young men in baseball caps hover in the white haze, their unblemished faces as bland as pudding. Some offer what would be come-hither smiles if they weren't so sexless; others have their jaws clenched not in determination, but in determination to look determined. All look familiar in an altogether forgettable way.

At Tri Gallery, Amy Adler's "Team" beckons to us only to rebuff our advances--like the untouchable teen idols featured in magazines such as Tiger Beat, upon whom the "players" are loosely based.

Adler's process is interesting: She makes black-and-white drawings of young TV and movie stars; takes away telling details while adding others--like black baseball caps stripped of any insignias--and then takes photographs of the drawings. This results in a glossy, apparently impenetrable surface that heightens our alienation from those good-looking ciphers the media programs us to desire.

Adler's subjects are many: the construction of heroes, the politics of fandom, the adolescent's fragile sexuality, the mechanics of identification. Yet the project is still rather fuzzy. The biggest problem is that the faces aren't recognizable enough to her post-adolescent audience; they might just as easily have been taken from rookie baseball cards of the 1950s. This compromises the work, and represents the danger of using the most ephemeral of pop cultural ephemera as the basis for conceptual practice.

* Tri Gallery, 6365 Yucca St., Hollywood, (213) 469-6686, through Saturday. *

Charming: At Craig Krull Gallery, a small show of Julius Shulman's classic photographs of early California modernist architecture is perfectly charming. Architecture--especially the work of Schindler, Neutra, Soriano and other participants in the famous Case Study House Program--is not usually described this way. Yet Shulman's photographs are anything but usual, and about lots of things besides architecture.

Shulman is not merely a documentarian. He is an artist interested in creating a vision of a perfect world, where Eames chairs are arranged in perfect symmetry, Natzler bowls are placed with geometric precision, and the only signs of life are provided by the owners, who look immensely out of place, posed like dolls stuck in the wrong house.

Sometimes, Shulman shoots from the outside peering in; these images are essays in frustrated voyeurism. In others, he shoots from the inside looking out onto the magnificent landscape. These images are mischievous, for they represent architecture merely as the frame for nature. They are also the most nostalgic of the photographs, for they freeze in black-and-white perpetuity a post-war dream of California, the Golden State.

* Craig Krull Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 828-6410, through Oct. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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