By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
A case in point is Heidi 2, an ostensible sequel to McCarthy and Mike Kelley‘s installationvideo of 1992, made by young New York artists Sue de Beer and Laura Parnes, on view at LACE. A two-screen video projection with a sort-of installation of foam chairs, Heidi 2: The Unauthorized Sequel has its moments. There is the splendid puke sequence, the inspired casting of Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter, the amusing postproduction subtitle commentary by a computer-animated frog and bunny, and the powerful climactic self-caesarean Teletubbification that Heidi Jr. blithely undergoes. But the whole package is sloppy and inferior. What dialogue there is, is stilted and uninspired. The frog and bunny particularly pale next to their sock-puppet models from the original (scripted, I suspect, by the always acerbic Kelley). There are a surprising number of boring undergrad-video-class lags in action for such a short work, and a shallow and formulaic reversal of gender concerns that doesn’t credit the complexity of its source. In spite of a priori claims to the contrary, the parts that work do so only as homage or parody of the original, and then only in a winking, self-conscious way. Finally, the absence of McCarthy and Kelley‘s formal strengths and powerful and coherent psychological impetus makes Heidi 2’s technical shortcomings truly grating. Apart from the high points already lifted, there‘s only a slight and unconvincing frisson of au courant authorial indeterminacy to suggest that Heidi 2 is anything but a cheap, sensationalist (albeit successful) attempt to break into the art world by stealing the superficial vocabulary of someone else’s work and saying, ”Aren‘t we postmodern?“
From the Los Angeles perspective, the Paul McCarthy museum retrospective is a chance to see work by yet another local hero who never shows locally -- McCarthy’s last real Los Angeles gallery show was in 1994, when his polygenital Tomato Heads were seen at Rosamund Felsen Gallery. Since then, it‘s been occasional scraps of photodocumentation, or editions. The concurrent show at Patrick Painter Inc. gallery is typical: Alpine post cards and Heidi Fleiss magazine covers blown up to collectible size, desultorily if humorously modified by the artist, and hung out to dry. Much better, though less in keeping with expectations of outrageousness, are the suite of Santa Claus drawings in the backroom; McCarthy’s disconcertingly gifted draftsmanship peppers the MOCA show as well. (Unfortunately, the Painter show closes at the end of the day on Wednesday, November 22, but if you make it out to Bergamot Station, check out the utterly convincing photographic work of one of McCarthy‘s cited influences -- softcore-movie auteur Russ Meyer, whose show at Mark Moore Gallery accompanies the long-awaited publication of his three-volume autobiography, A Clean Breast.)
In spite of the fact that many of the MOCA installations are incomplete -- the set from the hilarious Painter (1995) video was trashed en route to the Venice Bienalle, the owners of the Pinochio Pipenose Householddilemma (1994) set declined to loan the audience-participation costumes included originally, and even Spaghetti Man almost didn’t make it because of severe molting -- this is the best and only chance those of us not among the jet set have of seeing the real work of, yes, ”one of the most important and influential American artists working today.“ Even if he finally makes it big in New York.
1 A Viennese performance artist whom Robert Hughes reported to have cut off his penis and jumped to his death for art‘s sake, but in fact had only made photos using models simulating various mutilations (as seen in MOCA’s ”Out of Actions“) and committed suicide for personal reasons.