Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Tide of Art, Oil and Pathos in Bywater

      In the wake of the torrent of oil spilling into the gulf, came a gusher of art shows and other artistic responses to the BP blowout. That is not surprising; art is almost always part of the collective process of working through widespread trauma. Rajko Radovanovic’s LAST LINE OF DEFENSE is a visualization of what is ordinarily a verbal concept. In his photographs, many American flags appear on marsh grasses, on sandy Grand Isle beaches, and along the water south of Venice. “America’s Wetlands” is an abstraction when it’s written, but here the flag literally appears on shifting sands and in places where delicate estuaries form the frontier between our best hopes and our worst fears. The view is stark and repetitive, but the point is well taken. Robert Hannant’s IS THE OIL HERE? is a three-panel video with an acrobatic female model enacting a kind of psychodrama performance, dancing and contorting on cars in a parking garage, or on the deck of the ferry, among other places. Oil is everywhere in the form of plastic and fuel if we look for it, but recognizing that ubiquity becomes unsettling as we realize the true price we pay for our conveniences. The rapidly shifting, quick-cut video editing lends a semi-hypnotic cohesion to imagery might otherwise seem overwrought.

     Very different are the raw folk-pop paintings by the artist named Juna at the Yellow Moon. OIL SOUP, which actually predates the spill, is a play on Warhol’s iconic soup can, but with a bowl of crude oil on the label. A visual blunt instrument, its gag-inducing message works well with her other, equally pithy images--and a recently uncovered Mike Frolich mural--amid all the other colorful exotica on view at the convivial Ninth Ward oasis that is the Yellow Moon. ~Bookhardt 
IS THE OIL HERE? A SNAPSHOT: Video and Pictures by Robert Hannant
LAST LINE OF DEFENSE: Documentation of Interventions by Rajko Radovanovic
Through August 7
Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427;
NO OIL PAINTINGS: Recent Work by Juna
Through August 2
Yellow Moon Bar, 800 France St., 944-0441;