The Four Corners Monument in the Western U.S. indicates the point where the modern states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. A single, aluminum and bronze medallion is inscribed with two intersecting lines delineating the four abutting territories. Visitors drive for hours to approach the quadripoint and . . . look down. Some just stare; some snap pictures with their limbs in each quadrant. Everyone, however, pauses for a quiet second, flummoxed and registering that this sprawling desert landscape is, in fact, divided by invisible forcefields.
The contiguous borders represent the magic wand that have waved and turned one land into something else for 500 years. Even more than the tragi-comic spectacle of seeing a fence poking into the ocean at Tijuana/San Diego's Border Beach, or the Land Art-like slashed forest marking the U.S.–Canada border, each car pulling up to Four Corners to physically experience a concept underscores empire's relationship to bureaucracy and the arbitrary nature of political geography.
The amorphousness of nation-states—and the ability of delimitation to spur animosity—is a hallmark of the recent work of the artist Renée Petropoulos. From sculptural installations where one enters into stark opposition with other participants simply by sitting on one side or another to performances situated in the animosity resulting from demarcation, the California-based multimedia practitioner brings her exploration of a line's capacity for creating tension to Local 1 in Roma Norte from February 4 to march 14 2020 with her exhibition RedCarpet/Local 1 (Balancing Trick) 2020.
A photograph hanging in the gallery titled East West, shows two ceramic pitchers facing off on a table, their handles pointing outward as their stare down persists indefinitely. Roughly the same height, the two distinct decorations and forms suggest the differing origins, and agendas, that motivate this earthenware impasse. There is no visible division between them except the one rightly perceived by a viewer. On the floor below, a thin strip of red carpet traces the perimeter where the white walls meet the floor, highlighting the floorplan of the room as a "zone." The space is not corralled, per se, but such a possibility is hinted at, particularly when a viewer sees the carpet "seeing" them.
As well, RedCarpet/Local 1 (Balancing Trick) 2020 re-wires Local 1 to broadcast remembrances of the Cold War's weaponizing of juxtaposition in consideration of current cartographic conflicts. The artist's multiyear engagement with author John le Carré and the medium of the midcentury spy novel, for example, informs both a performance and a looping video work in the adjacent bar, each situated in the suspicious and doubtful relationships resulting from the irrationalities of partition. The works included in Petropoulos's exhibition both demonstrate and transmute the ways in which sectors, and their corresponding codes, emerge from the drawing of a line.
RedCarpet/ Local 1 (Balancing Trick). 2020
An Old Illness (3 for 2), 2017/ 2020.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Renée Petropoulos has created projects and exhibited internationally. Highlights over the last decade include: Among Nations (Mostly), a project with a performance, Analogue (2012), at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture (West Hollywood, CA); Venice to Venice (2012) as part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A., and Women in Surrealism for the L.A. County Museum of Art. Black Star, begun in 2006, is a performance in continuum in Berlin. Her installation of Prototype for the History of Painting: Eingrouping Social Historical was presented at MARTE San Salvador in El Salvador. Her film, Two or Three Things I Know About Gas Station Mini Marts screened in Philadelphia while the outdoor public sculpture project Bouquet (Flower Tower) Between Egypt, India, Iraq, the United States, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Mexico, in Santa Monica, CA, was completed in 2014—a related exhibition was also installed at LAMOA in Los Angeles. From the United States to Mexico/From Mexico to the United States, was presented at Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles in 2014 and included a choreographed performance. Petropoulos’s exhibited Monument 1 – conjugation with the Proxy Gallery in Paris in 2016 and her drawings were included in Forms of the Formless (2018) at Beijing MoCA, curated by Marlena Donahue. Also in 2018, she produced a project in conjunction with MACO in Oaxaca, Mexico, and was a guest artist at the Palm Springs Art Museum in 2019 and a IASPIS Fellow in Stockholm, Sweden. She just concluded a residency at 18th Street Arts Center with Arturo Hernandez. Petropoulos teaches in the Graduate department at the Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles.
ABOUT LOCAL °|
Local °| is a not for profit art space and artist residency. It is funded by its adjacent Local °| bar.
Bar hours Tuesday to Saturday 5pm – 2am.
Art Space hours Tuesday to Saturday 5pm – 9pm.