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In a month that has seen America’s newly-elected oligarch round out his cabinet with several former Goldman Sachs executives, the ever-elusive provocateur, John Armleder, has filled David Kordansky’s cavernous gallery with found and fabricated luxury items. The means and the end appear to be the designing of an interior that outwardly spreads upward mobility while declassifying classism within. But are the culminating conflicted gestures coincidence or calculation?
In the left room are two centerpiece installations: West Jasmine and Jasmine West (both 2017). Both are composed of curated detritus—books ranging in subject from the ‘90s sitcom Friends to Laura Bush; wine glasses; bricks; and charcoal—all carefully strewn about. Is this celebration or denouncement of decadent white privilege? Perhaps it is merely a side-eyed observation.
In the right room, octopuses are stenciled onto each wall, with one wall occupied entirely by a single massive mollusk. Lining two of these garishly aquatic walls are sizable paintings on raw canvas—stained, splattered, and sparkling. These are theoretically formulaic works, but the tacky adornment subverts the now-understood art-historical signifiers of elegance. On the wall just to the right of the huge, outlined creature are two brand-new, mid-size fleece dog beds. Elevated as paintings, these will likely be hocked to some savvy, well-heeled being for the rough, combined price of two PetSmart managers’ yearly salaries.
The work is called Play Hard Rest Easy (Furniture Sculpture) (2017); fitting, as Armleder has been playing hard and easily resting on a fine line between commercial credence and conceptualist criticism for over half a century. Armleder’s tentacled actions and reactions, ideas and objects have continually proven that he is one of the most elite artists within the realm of institutional critique. The recurring institution he critiques is capitalist culture, though he transparently relies upon and benefits from the tightly wound strings attached to it.
John Armleder runs from January 13–February 25, 2017 at David Kordansky Gallery (5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90019).