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Review: Jed Berk and Oliver McIrwin test the water

August 29, 2012|Holly Myers
  • Jed Berk and Oliver McIrwin, Air Looming (detail), 2012, Balloons, Spray Bottle w/ Pump, PVC Irrigation Tubing, connectors, Valves and air
Jed Berk and Oliver McIrwin, Air Looming (detail), 2012, Balloons, Spray… (Courtesy of the artists…)

Jed Berk and Oliver McIrwin’s collaborative installation “Aquaculture,” at Aran Cravey Gallery, plays on the line between the organic and the synthetic, transforming the modest Abbot Kinney storefront into a lush, acrylic-based greenhouse of pointedly indeterminate phylum.

They clearly had some fun with it, and the fun is more or less contagious. A floating tangle of leaf-green helium balloons mysteriously rigged with PVC  irrigation tubing; rubber fish, gorged with spray foam, that dangle in unholy anatomical harmony from the mouths of similarly gorged tennis shoes and galoshes; water troughs filled with mop heads, pile rugs and swaths of “cuddle shag fabric” that waft and wave in the ripping water like anemones in a tide pool — the best of the works are large, cheerfully bizarre concoctions that blithely set their own formal terms, overshadowing a handful of one-liners.

If the show has a higher purpose than fun — the ringing of environmental alarm bells, say — the effect is understated. The discomfiting fact remains, however, that the image of a fish gorged with spray foam is not so far removed from reality in many regions of the world’s oceans.

— Holly Myers

Aran Cravey Gallery, 1638 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 581-1144, through Sept. 9. Closed Monday and Tuesday.  www.arancravey.com

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