The detritus of downtown Los Angeles - domestic goods, wooden furniture, industrial and construction debris - are the primary materials for Linda Franke’s Access to Nameless Hazards. Animations, sculptures, soundtracks, collages, and masks are intermixed with starkly-lit installations that double as stage-sets for performers. A performance video runs on a loop near the entry to the exhibit. In each of several installations the performer repeats an action, which leaves them trapped in a ridiculous motion, or reduces them from a living body into an element of sculpture. A few of the interactions include: a performer standing between two doors in an open wooden frame frantically, but futilely, turning the door knobs as if trying to escape; a performer lying motionless on the floor with her arm through a cylindrical hole in a log; a man standing with his chin and forearms resting on a dingy trestle covered with painted plaster. As installations without performers, these compositions of objects project a sense of absence - a need for the body to become a part of the space to satisfy it, to fill the void.
In one sculpture, a discarded wooden dining chair’s legs grow into curling tendrils. An animation shows a similar chair stretching and distorting, like a live animal. In another work plaster has been poured through the rim of a plastic basketball goal, as if the shot of the basketball was liquid that petrified. The ball is on the floor, cast in concrete. On video, a performer slowly kicks the ball, but it’s weight makes it slow to move, impossible to throw. In another sculpture with a corresponding animation peach-colored forms envelop a wooden coffee table, softly smothering it, only it’s legs and corners visible.
Surrounding the aforementioned sculpture were a series of masks paired with collages. The masks were plaster with latex, each face with the eyes closed, each treated to either an additive or subtractive process. One has cheeks eroded as if by acidic tears, one has a growth like a fungi, one a false nose, one is a nearly complete obliteration. The collages, with found imagery and frames dialogue with the masks, the subjects and forms reflected in each face.
Access to Nameless Hazards left me thinking about the objects in the direct environment and the meaning discarded materials inherently carry with them. I felt a sinister absence, and a sense of personal loss. This void was both filled and accentuated by the idea of the performers and the spaces they left behind.
In my favorite arrangement in the exhibit, the heavy, frond-less crown of a palm tree was wedged inside an an old black rolling suitcase. I imagined myself laboriously pulling the suitcase behind me, walking away from the gallery, the awkwardly shaped palm crown sticking out, it’s weight tipping the balance of the wheels, part rolling, part dragging. I imagined that I would keep walking, through the industrial areas, the homeless encampments, the abandoned buildings of Los Angeles, with this crown in a suitcase, rolling, dragging, rolling, dragging, the scrape of the concrete the soundtrack.