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Is a body an object? An action? A joke? With poetry and awkward humor, Olga Balema addresses these questions in On The Brink Of My Sexy Apocalypse, currently on view at Hannah Hoffman. Balema’s work is sterile and haphazard, juxtaposing a world of sensuous gore and quiet stagnation.
In the main gallery the floor is covered in sections of institutional-green linoleum. It slopes up the wall and spreads like layered tarps, as if protecting the floors from spills or skid marks. Around the room lie four torso-sized bags of soft PVC full of clear liquid; the sculptures suggest limp bodies full of floating, alien objects. Suspended within are pencil drawings, latex ribs, photos, and cursive words written in rusting wire. Like waterlogged scrapbooks they are personal, but ultimately cold, medically sterile.
Around the corner, a wire armature, Notes from the Capital (2016), is dressed in torn plaid, holding out a scrap of waterproof, red fabric. The material hangs full of liquid, as if catching a leak from the gallery’s roof. Like the poorly-laid linoleum, the figure insinuates action, prevention or preparation— for what remains unclear. Functioning at the lowest degree possible, the works are always close to self-destruction, failure becomes the basis for these aesthetic objects. They cling to some abstracted purpose, all the while laughing at the viewer for attempting to make sense of it.
Not every sculpture is so engaging. Moods (2016), made from steel, tulle, and latex, seems unfinished; the webbing around the wire skeleton does not activate. The less-realized pieces don’t communicate as poetic failures. Rather, through their lack of assumed action, they contradict the rest. In spite of this, the aptly named show is successful as it examines disfunction and ambivalence in physical structures and systems of control. Balema’s pieces reflect bodies in crisis, failed by such systems and teetering precariously close to collapse.
Olga Balema: On The Brink Of My Sexy Apocalypse runs from January 25 – March 11, 2017 at Hannah Hoffman Gallery (1010 N. Highland Ave, Los Angeles 90038).