Jen DeNike, "The Star Card" (installation shot), 2012 (Courtesy the artist and…)
New York-based artist Jen DeNike’s second solo show with Anat Egbi is a handsome if rather shallow installation based on a loose interpretation of the Star card in the Tarot deck.
A monitor set on the floor of the gallery plays a four minute video in which the artist stages the image traditionally associated with the card: a nude woman kneeling with a pitcher in either hand, pouring water onto the ground and into a pond simultaneously, with eight stars hovering overhead.
Pristine white cushions and crocheted textiles surround the monitor, alongside a pair of photographs that echo the video and—the show’s highlight—a lovely series of white-on-white paper and canvas collages, ostensibly produced while the artist was in a hypnotic trance.
The exhibition is accompanied by a statement recounting the life of the artist’s great-grandmother, a “Finnish seer” and “nomadic feminist adventurer” who read the tarot and rode bareback in a Wild West show, in whose footsteps DeNike presumably longs to follow.
She is clearly drawn to notions of mysticism, and one is inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. They feel here like little more than notions, however. The Star card, like all of the Tarot, has a rich nexus of symbolic meaning and implication that DeNike’s prosaic reenactment scarcely touches.
A little less pomp and a little more research would serve the artist well, drawing out the true complexity of the themes she has commendably taken on.
Anat Egbi, 955 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, (213) 290-0122, through January 26. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.thecompanyart.com
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