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Seasons End: Panting Healer is the title of REDCAT’s only exhibition of the fall—a sprawling set designed by Canadian-born nomad, Tamara Henderson. Despite the (near-)allusion to the often tired medium of painting in the title, very few of the works on view could be typified as such. In fact, this collection of makeshift models is more like a reassembled bazaar-cum-anthropological playground than a standard exhibition. The installation is comprehensively open and optimistic; and if there is hope, it lies in Henderson’s intuitive compulsion to get beyond oneself.
There is an oblique mystic sensibility to the whole affair, which risks feeling hokey; yet, Henderson avoids phoned-in shamanism. Instead, the connection feels like a dial-up modem—a slow burn perhaps most eloquently exemplified in her flaneuristic 35mm films, which in this case are accompanied by an anxious Arabic-influenced soundtrack and projected from a janky jalopy. Elsewhere, on fabric-clad totemic props or in a slumping yurt functioning as a fashion house dark room, Henderson spatters suggestive details of decay and decadence—seashells and fishing lures, suns and moons, postcards and pot leaves—like a self-aware hoarder ready to eat, pray, and love. Grapes, the ancient aphrodisiac, are a shamelessly recurring symbol throughout.
Is it insensitive or insincere that a wandering Westerner is performing a culture mash at a well-funded institution with educational ties, in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world? No. We’ve been hunting and gathering since the beginning of existence; these days, we just have Google Maps and delivery service apps installed on our smartphones, so we’re now on a seemingly impossible search for new things to discover IRL. In downtown Los Angeles, Henderson reaches for, grabs hold of, and offers up the fertile and the futile with equal measured hands.
Seasons End: Panting Healer runs October 15–December 23, 2016 at REDCAT (631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012)