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The press release for Reagan Babies, currently on view at Ms. Barbers, argues that those born into Reagan’s America share an “ingrained affinity” for “the zenith of electronic clutter” (Discmen, Nintendos, land lines) and “the honesty of reality that these things represent.” Bewildering in its conclusion of the “honest” interaction with reality engendered by a digital alarm clock (right up there with a rooster, I suppose), Reagan Babies nonetheless attempts to frame its works in the specifics of a bygone era.
Though several of the objects are clunky as a VCR, the artists make little reference to their common birth decade. The most direct allusions include a washed-out visage of one Michael Jackson (James Brittingham’s after Richard Avedon), and an oblique reappraisal of faux-wholesome 1980s consumerism (Borna Sammak’s What I Should Get). The leaky linkages between works in Reagan Babies, then, are given context only in their relation to a casual misapprehension—thankfully, much of the work stands on its own.
Cameron Crone’s Overlay #2 forces the sandy index of an aquarium gravel beach within the confines of a sky blue towel on concrete. Claire Nereim’s Pierced Pears is both wastefully ‘80s and contemporary in that the perfectly cloned pears look sprung from the head of Monsanto. Max Rain’s Ghosts is the most striking and eerily traditional-seeming thing here: shrouded figures in a shanty interior coated in the iridescently magic manner of stained glass. A kind of nativity scene closed for the season.
Reagan Babies runs August 1-September 4, 2015 at Ms. Barbers (5370 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016)