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Review: Ilene Segalove, past and present at Jancar

May 17, 2013|By Leah Ollman
  • Detail of Ilene Segalove's "Secret Museum of Mankind" at Jancar.
Detail of Ilene Segalove's "Secret Museum of Mankind"… (Jancar Gallery )

"Dialogues in Time" at Jancar skips between past and present in Ilene Segalove's life and work, looking at each through the lens of the other. It's a small show, but a poignant romp: at once blunt, wry, endearing and revealing.

The recent work deals mainly with slippage between now and then, between the real and the ostensibly ideal. In "Whatever Happened to My Future" (2012), the 60-year-oldĀ  Segalove video-chats with her 20-year-old self, thanks to some doctored old reel-to-reel footage. Characteristic of the artist's work over four decades, the exchange spans the personal (What happened to my hair?) and the political (Did ecology work?), compressing them into what amounts to a form of cultural chronicle, or collective autobiography.

This is especially true of "Secret Museum of Mankind" (2011), a five-panel collage interspersing posed portraits of the artist with dated ethnographic studies of foreign female types. Segalove includes the older pictures' original captions, ghastly sexist and racist commentary rating the looks of the "Buttered Beauty of the Negroid North" or "A Belle of the Quichua Tribe."

She adopts a snarky, self-critical tone in the captions to her own self-portraits, sighing over her age lines, laugh lines.

With slightly bitter resignation, Segalove labels one image: "I'm not sad, Proclaims Crone. I just look this way." The sentiment echoes a passage in the video when the older Segalove laments that she's gotten old and dark and lost her juice. To which her younger self keenly implores, "I don't want to turn into you. Get your irony back!"

Jancar Gallery, 961 Chung King Road, (213) 625-2522, through May 25. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.jancargallery.com

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