SAMARA GOLDEN, MARNIE WEBER AND RODNEY MCMILLIAN | ROOM TO LIVE AT MOCA – Design Museum

SAMARA GOLDEN, MARNIE WEBER AND RODNEY MCMILLIAN | ROOM TO LIVE AT MOCA

Samara Golden is a rising star. She has a second solo exhibition upcoming at Night Gallery in Los Angeles; and this past year alone, she’s had a solo booth at Frieze in New York; a two-person, collaborative exhibition with artist and Night Gallery propietor Davida Nemeroff at Various Small Fires;  as well as group shows at Rachel Uffner, Marlborough Chelsea, and On Stellar Rays.Golden’s installations are heavy; they resonate with the past, present, and future. Her distinctive artistic world sucks you in like a clip from pop culture, consumes you like a mesmerizing spell, and spits you out like a ball of fire. Installations might include video collages using photos and self-created mantras, overloads of printed images from Amazon and EBay of desirable products, silver insulation foam from which Golden builds structures, and fabrics dipped in Elmer’s glue to cover the walls. Secondhand furniture, home bedding, sheets, and fabrics adorn the walls and often make up the details, a cacophony of information. It is jarring, leaving audiences at times shaken up—but better off than before, too; more likely to interrogate their own experience. Golden tells stories the way Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and the Eagles did—her soul feels rooted in California, but her experiences feel otherworldly.We exchanged thoughts with Golden about the sixth dimension, music, and time travel from across the country, while she was installing The Fireplace, a large scale, full-room installation for the group exhibition “Room to Live,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, her first musem show.

Samara Golden | Rape of the Mirror, Beachside installation, 2011

Los Angeles based artist Marnie Weber has spent her carrer weaving music, performance, collage, photography and performance together into her own personal fictions. Always heavily involved with the American alt-rock scene, Weber performed with The Party Boys and The Perfect Me in the 1980s before producing two solo albums, Woman with Bass in 1994 and Cry for Happy in 1996. She also designed the cover for Sonic’s Youth’s album, A Thousand Leaves. Her background is evidenced by her determination to incite a reaction from her audience.More recently she established conceptual art rock group the Spirit Girls, which brings together ‘a group of girls who died tragically in their youth and then come back to earth as spirits to perform in a band and to communicate through music’. This neo-gothic fairytale gave birth to several psychologically-charged artworks which disorientate the viewer. Emotional responses waver between happiness and sadness, amusement and tragedy, attraction and repulsion.Mixing mainstream with counter-cultural elements, but also inspired by classic westerns and Surrealism, Marnie Weber’s mythological world is populated with fantastic beasts and masked characters. Among the recurring figures are the clown, the doll and the bear. She describes them as friends or demons that follow her around. Her unique Surrealist lens is most trenchant in her videos, which she sees as ‘moving dreamscapes.

Marnie Weber | Log Lady & Durty Bunny, 2009
Marnie Weber | Log Lady & Durty Bunny, 2009

Rodney McMillian has a talent for setting up uncanny relationships among undistinguished objects. Many of the 18 works shown in this exhibition, titled “Prospect Ave.,” repurpose furnishings from McMillian’s former home on Prospect Avenue in Los Angeles. Despite their domestic roots, however, they do not lend comfort. In fact, quite the opposite: McMillian’s videos, installations, paintings and sculptures trigger an overall sense of unease.
Taking the dual quality further, the exhibition itself was split into two rooms, the second of which the viewer entered by way of a second tunnel—this one made of painted canvases. In the latter room, two videos played on monitors resting on the floor. One video features the shoed feet of someone dancing on the same brown carpeting that hung in the first room. The other is a close-up on the artist as he sings along, rather flatly, to Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem “I Will Survive.” His expression is borderline melancholic, and the song— about lovers parting—suggests the completion of a thematic cycle that had begun with the notion of mate seeking.
Again, however, the works are hardly sentimental. The titles further contribute to the sense of intellectual distance. One of the carpet works, for instance, is titled Carpet Painting (Bedroom and TV Room), which evokes personal spaces normally associated with leisure and entertainment but also connects the object to the rarified realm of painting. At the same time, while the composition has the visual flatness and hard-edged lines of certain modernist styles, it strips away the refinement associated with such work. In McMillian’s strange world, nothing operates on a single plane: objects shift contexts and slide between numerous dimensions.

Rodney McMillian | Prospect Ave, 2012 at Maccarone

See their current exhibitions at MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art here.
MOCA museum guide here.

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