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“Welcome,” reads a wall work entitled Sunshine (2016) in Olga Koumoundouros’s animated exhibition at Commonwealth & Council. Composed of soft sheepskin letters that are dipped in hardened, sulfuric-yellow paint and epoxy clay, the work introduces an insistent materiality and sense of contradiction that runs throughout the installation.
In keeping with the artist’s past projects, symbols of labor and domesticity abound, as in the pieces of work clothes that form part of several sculptures, and the dropped ceiling tiles and fluorescent lights of Middle Manager (2016). The latter evokes drudgery, but each work incorporates signs of disruption and play that point to the creative possibilities of labor: on the floor, a drab carpet includes wave-patterned cutouts, which interrupt its office-like banality with movement and natural forms.
Koumoundouros’s treatment of work and its various manifestations tends toward existential questions rather than overt political statements such as those, historically, of artists such as Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Martha Rosler. In Salting Fruits (2016)—which comprises two videos and a mounting structure of plaster cubes and clay objects—the artist turns this lens to the Salton Sea, a barren site often used to signal industry’s destructive proclivities. Yet Koumoundouros focuses instead on the area’s geothermal mud volcanoes, which create encrusted mounds and spume actively behind the artist as she buries her body, plays music, and gives indecipherable lectures with her collaborator, Troy Rounseville. Natural and human forms of labor are here elided with personal expression, offering a promise of productive potential even after apocalyptic ruin.
Olga Koumoundouros: The Soul at Work: Phoning it In runs July 30-September 10, 2016 at Commonwealth and Council (3006 W 7th Street #220, Los Angeles CA 90005)