san francisco art magazine

Summer Group Show: Sean Horchy, Candice Lin and Tim Sullivan
June 30 - July 29, 2006
Lisa Dent Gallery

     Located in a darkened room towards the back of the gallery, Sean Horchy's multimedia installation Haunted Teakettle features a large screen on one wall. An amusingly simple video of a teakettle sitting on top of an electric stove plays continuously. If passively observed, the video footage is complemented by the occasional sound of a kettle whistling as water boils. Haunted Tea KettleThere are no instructions in the room, but it becomes obvious that Horchy has the viewer's participation in mind. A turntable, complete with a slab of pink vinyl, and a keyboard sit on a table in the center of the room. On the lower part of the video screen are a series of visual level indicators. Corresponding knobs located on the keyboard can be turned to alter sound and video. Keys can be pressed, and the record played. The resulting sounds are altered by the technology Horchy has implemented, which more often than not makes dissonant noise out of the participant's efforts. How one feels about Haunted Teakettle likely depends on the individual's level of enthusiasm for playing with musical gadgetry.

     Candice Lin's drawings on paper and sculptures are grouped together in two separate areas of the gallery. Ceremonial Distribution of Food depicts a dreamlike scenario in which a figure in Native American garb emerges from a patch of foliage. In the center of the drawing, a naked white woman with a deathly stare lies on the ground. Ceremonial Distribution of FoodTwo blacks on the right are feasting on what appear to be the disembodied legs of the sprawled female. Each figure is drawn in a fairly silly way, as if it were a 19th Century caricature. Is Lin addressing racial issues here? It seems more likely that she is using the stereotypical representations to entice the viewer into her fractured, theatrical world. Across the room, Two Pretty Girls One Disfigured by Mourning seems more grounded in reality, with its sharper detail and figures posed as if in front of a camera. A woman with Asian features is drawn centrally, with a white girl and boy sitting on either side of her. The younger of the two "pretty girls" looks toward the boy, who glares uneasily at the viewer. Lin has poked out the areas of paper where the older woman's eyes should be, making it difficult to read an emotion from the figure. Maybe she is mourning, as the title suggests. Or is there a story hidden in the drawing, making the young white girl the troubled one? There is room here for the viewer to come up with their own interpretations.

     Tim Sullivan uses a variety of media, pursuing subject matter that seems both light-minded and tinged with lingering darkness. In 450,000 x Disaster (Songs About California and the Devil), 450,000 x Disaster (Songs About California and the Devil)a large pile of fluorescent matchbooks on the gallery floor include text printed on the outside. Featuring mostly hackneyed classic rock song titles ("Runnin' With the Devil"; "Hotel California") and the artists who played them, the books of matches seem mindlessly celebratory. But when coming across "Helter Skelter," the only California reference that comes to mind is the Manson family scrawling those words in human blood, throwing a definite bummer into the mix. On a wall-mounted screen near the match pile, a short film titled Magic Carpet Ride plays continuously. Aurally accompanied by the swaggering Steppenwolf recording of the same name, the action focuses on Sullivan and George Kuchar, an artist known for his bargain basement approach to filmmaking. Flying in an old carnival contraption, the two are goofily superimposed over an array of San Francisco sights--Pier 39, Lombard St., Alcatraz, etc. A corny mix of low-fi special effects and the visual humor of Laurel and Hardy, Magic Carpet Ride dares the viewer to call it art, and in doing so seems darkly subversive.

-- Greg Borman
Greg Borman is an artist and writer living in the Bay Area.

Lisa Dent Gallery
660 Mission Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA

photos by Wilfred J. Jones
images courtesy Lisa Dent Gallery