Saturday, June 28, 2008

Andrea Zittel: Energetic Accumulators, and Token Exchanges

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...?

Well, it was the last day of the show, but better late than never! I was thumbing through this week's L.A. Weekly and came across Peter Frank's recommendation ("The 'It' Parade") to see the Andrea Zittel show at Regen Projects II. At first when I entered the gallery I thought to myself, 'Oh brother, another found object show?' However, after wandering the space for a bit, I realized that it was much more than that -- and that's good news!

The exhibition was not so much about found objects (or useless junk, for that matter) as it was about the idea of exchange, based on the perceived value and mass accumulation of objects. The show consisted of various table and coffee table surfaces with multiple concave niches (kind of like the African game Mankala), each cut-out containing an object which Zittel placed inside. The installation, game-like in practice, involved having you participate in this creative experiment -- swap out any one object for another so long as you replace it with something of equal value. The objects traded ranged from matchbooks to CDs to gum wrappers to dollar bills to cigarettes, and so on... It took me a while to decide what to swap, especially because I came completely unprepared to participate in something like this. There was one that I found to be quite creative. Someone had traded a U.S. quarter for another one. Next to the quarter was a note which commented:

"I exchanged an Idaho quarter for a Massachusetts quarter. They are worth the same, but maybe not to everyone."

The longer I stared at all the other second-hand trinkets, the more intimidated I was to out do the others. I flipped through my trusty notebook to see if I had something to pass off and 'lo and behold,' it came to me. I had ripped out the actual Peter Frank review from the L.A. Weekly and stuffed it into my note. I traded the torn review for a finely-knotted piece of string. On the note, I wrote:

"Art reviews and priceless."

Take that Idaho quarter person! What can I say, I'm a generous guy!

In any case, the exhibition did succeed in making me think twice about not only my own selection, but also my critical view of other people and their selections. There is something to be said about how we perceive value, as well as the natural tendency of accumulation on surfaces. One thing is for sure, I'll definitely be thinking twice about where I place my keys, cell phone and spare change when I get home.

This exhibition is on view at Regen Projects II from May 24-June 28, 2008; 9016 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; May 24 – June 28, 2008, Open Tuesday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; (310) 276-5424; Free.