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Art Review : Bulloch Bridges Art and the Audience

May 27, 1995|SUSAN KANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In Angela Bulloch's work at Marc Foxx Gallery, what looks like shrewd laziness is in fact lazy shrewdness. Call it laissez-faire conceptualism--all the more appealing for its apparent unconcern.

Like many of her contemporaries, Bulloch dabbles in multiple media--video, installation, sculpture, painting. In all of them, she is consummately at ease. This comes as no surprise because her work seems to demand little of her (moments of dumb inspiration, perhaps), and even less of us.

What could be less demanding--and more inviting--than the following tableau: a red beanbag chair, a TV set, a stereo and a pair of remote controls? At last, here is art that acknowledges our secret dread of art, and is only too happy to indulge a desire to relax.

One remote control operates the video monitor, where we watch a group of Japanese schoolkids giggling uncontrollably; the other operates the sound system, which plays eight different covers of Blondie's "Rapture." If the zonked-out bliss Bulloch offers starts to feel as bogus as Blondie's anomie, there is somewhere else to go--a padded orange bench that faces a wall upon which one of Bulloch's drawing machines does its mechanical thing.

Here, via a motorized pulley system, an orange marker moves up and down in slow motion, leaving behind a series of vertical lines; the marker's lethargic purposefulness dissolves only with the pressure of the viewer's rear end upon the bench, at which point the marker shifts direction, from the vertical axis to the horizontal.

As with a whoopee cushion, there are consequences--here, a gridded wall drawing that seems to enact the Postmodern nicety (first articulated by Duchamp) that only the presence of the spectator completes the work of art. Bulloch, however, swiftly dispenses with that notion. From the painting, we turn to a large globe light, tinted a soft peach, which blinks not in tandem with our approach--as we might expect, given the broader context of this work--but at random, as if to remind us that we really have nothing at all to say here.

Bulloch suggests that that's OK, because she doesn't have that much to say either. Here is an unexpected strategy for leveling the playing field between artist and audience--a perverse situational ethic for happy, Postmodern slackers.

* Marc Foxx Gallery, 3026 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 315-2841, through May 27. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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