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The title of Michael Queenland’s latest exhibition, Roam, is both plain and precise. While in residence at the American Academy in Rome over the past year, Queenland meandered through the streets and collected debris, which he would later scan and print on ceramic tiles—cigarette packs, champagne wire tops, playing cards, lotto tickets. At Kristina Kite, the artist has arranged these alongside faux-rock tiles and placed them in various alternating patterns, creating a series of flat, floor-bound panels.
From afar, this expansive yet contained scattering looks like a wonky Magic Eye puzzle. Up close, the fake and the real pulsate and radiate with dumbed-down elegance, like a scuffed jewel. In the back gallery, there is a sampling of a series the artist worked on five years ago, titled Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders on view, in which Queenland clipped out images of corpses that The New York Times had printed over the course of a year, mounting them behind large mat boards, alongside the texts that randomly appeared on the pages behind them each day. The often cold, arbitrary nature of documentation is revealed by and through these framed works—human lives and daily details regularly reduced to croppings captured for a moment.
We walk past the litter of a locale and we better understand a culture without having to interact with a single person. We flip through pages of newsprint—casually observing the lives of strangers—and can have amateur versions of the anthropological experiences we might acquire out in the wild world. In both bodies of work presented here, Queenland willfully wanders in and out of the fluctuating realities that exist between action, depiction, and description, turning consumption into production and vice versa.
Michael Queenland: Roam runs December 9, 2017–February 10, 2018 at Kristina Kite Gallery (3400 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018).