Sunday, February 27, 2011

Schwanse * McNamee * Hindman * Haudenschield


Mass media, either digital or mechanical, is a theme that has been worked to death by artists in recent decades, so it's noteworthy that the two very different approaches in this CLASSIFIED expo, curated by UNO's Chris Saucedo, still seem fresh. Aaron McNamee subverts the processes of mechanical media by gluing an entire year of Times Picayune newspapers, some 4196 pages, into a 400 pound block of ink and cellulose. More pages of the paper, with print and images smooshed into illegibility, appear as plywood-like panels, or in smaller stacks like tiles. The news and its media are ephemeral, yet here the pages that once held all that was weighty in the world are congealed into dead weight and reduced to inert blocks of abandoned information in a weird ritual of entombment.
   The tiny pixels of light, dark and color that comprise digital media are weightless yet still convey the gravity of hopes and fears, dreams and obsessions. Computer screens are electric streets employing the inherently fetishistic nature of photographic imagery, and the women seen in Nina Schwanse's virtual catalog of femmes for hire--bubbly babes, or intellectual, technical, menial, bondage, or even drag queen babes--comprise a taxonomy of attraction encoded in the male and female psyches via movies and mass media idioms, those electronically stimulated concourses of the imagination where fantasies coincide with commerce. Here Schwanse provocatively explores those shadow realms where the individual and mass psyches intersect in the chimerical interplay of allure and its guises.

That ephemeral aspect of how the imagistic mind works is further explored in Jules Hindman's digital projections on gauzy passageways that replicate the movement of the viewer in a kind of interactive hall of mirrors at the UNO Gallery down the street. The effect of the veiled repetitive imagery is, at its best, hypnotic, recalling how waves of impressions accumulate as memories--all of which makes for a neat contrast with Hettie Haudenschield's evocative nature based expressionism in the adjacent chamber. ~Bookhardt     
CLASSIFIED: New Work by Aaron McNamee and Nina Schwanse, Through March 6, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-2506;
RECENT WORK by Jules Hindman and Hettie Haudenschield, Through March 6, UNO-St. Claude Gallery, 2429 St. Claude Ave, 280-6411;