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There’s a refreshing lack of irony to the phenomenological, an area of pure experience in which identity is given sensual pause. Magdalena Fernández engages this realm at MOCA-PDC, in part by sending up the primitivist sources cited by early abstractionists like Mondrian and Malevich.
In two of Fernández’s works here (1pm006  and 1i015 ), geometric arrangements of color are retooled into projections, which then bend, vibrate, and tense at the squawking, teeming forces at work within the exhibition’s sound design. A large floor projection between the two shows a whoosh of digital leaves accompanied by appropriate sonics. Fernández arranges a subtle inversion, as a vivid red sun lurks on the lower floor and a carpet of leaves greets one’s ascension of the stairs.
Similar territory has been explored by Antony Gormley, Olafur Eliasson, and, more recently, Random International (LACMA), and Yayoi Kusama (The Broad). Fernández for her part mines the increasing intimacy of the digital in reformulating the exterior world, distilling down to essential elements of sound and light absent the danger, uncertainty, and impending darkness of natural, external terrain.
The riffs on abstraction do more with less: 1pm006’s discrete tensility and ominous near-growls work more effectively than 1i015’s chirps and busier panelling. Downstairs, 1pmS011’s offset grids and 1dpS006’s mirage-like red sun are a vivid pairing, though the sharpness of the former strikes more than the languid shifts of the latter.
It’s easy to forget that, absent Fernández’s projections, the upstairs of MOCA PDC is simply an empty room. It’s also easy to overlook another, perhaps darker, theme at work in Fernández’s installation: the territorialization of the earth, and the complicated myth of pristine nature. Fernández engages us in a mode of being in which we are both present in a natural milieu and unnoticed within it: unable to engage, the work happens around a viewer lost in its repeating loop.
Magdalena Fernández runs October 3, 2015–January 3, 2016 at MOCA Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA, 90069)