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It would be easy to applaud the visual choices in Alex Da Corte’s current show, when so much of it pleases the eye and appeals to an appetite for the abject and the unconventional. However, pleasing the eye is only one way to sway the mind. A Season in He’ll (the title taken from the inimitable Arthur Rimbaud) is comprised of three rooms and an incongruous mixture of media. Da Corte responds to art historical trajectories and refracts them through a contemporary lens that misdirects and indulgently appropriates. Art and Literature, Coke, and Disney are all treated as fungible commodities and aesthetic playgrounds where Da Corte plays the Rimbaud-esque enfant terrible.
The show intends to push boundaries, particularly through its formally porous parameters as an interdisciplinary installation. Neon signage and lighting, an unmodulated neo-Pop palette, and aromatic diffusers make attempts at cohesion, but for all its flair and panache it makes a mess of matters rather than a meal of them. Video is the marrow of the show, but it gets lost in the shuffle of the exhibition’s hightone production. One video, A Night in Hell (Part II)(2014), depicts a man, bandaged to the point of mummification, set aflame in a theater setting. The daring video and performance work of Chris Burden, Bas Jan Ader, and Ana Mendieta are re-imagined in this slow-motion melodrama.
Largely mnemonic and open-sourced, A Season In He’ll is uncomfortably reminiscent of Mike Kelley’s multimedia and spatially composed works. However, it lacks the necessary thoroughness of attention and force of ideas to generate momentum enough to penetrate the superficialities of a free-associative composition. Undone by a permissive rationale and overt attempts at connectivity and visual cohesion, Da Corte’s latest offering burns hot but offers little light, despite all the neon.
Alex Da Corte: A Season in He’ll runs July 9-September 17, 2016 at Art+ Practice (4339 South Leimert Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90008)