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
But you wouldn’t know it from this show — or from most contemporary video art, for that matter, whose bloated and grandiose carcass seeks sanctuary in the very institutional embrace it once struggled against. (Speaking of which, where the hell’s Doug Aitken?) One need only consider Baldessari’s latest video triumph — his fawning talking-head tribute to Eli Broad at the BCAM opening — to know which way the wind blows. The restored and rehabilitated collection of artifacts that sought to disrupt the order of things plays, in the pristine chambers of the Getty, like the spruced-up corpses of defeated insurgents put on display by the gloating emperor.
I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. As spectacular entertainers go, Caligula was right up there. In this case, Mr. Irony Elephant may have gotten so big that the room is inside him instead of vice versa, and the question of visibility is rendered moot. One question that remains is, “How do you make a museum show from video art?” I bumbled around “California Video” for six hours straight, and saw only a fraction of the available material. The ever-present problem of sound leakage has been handled through the creation of a carnival-like atmosphere of overlapping installation pieces, which, while not disagreeable on its own merits, operates to the detriment of the more contemplative works, such as Paul Kos’ mid-’80s 27-monitor re-creation of a Chartres stained-glass window, or Jim Campbell’s poetic low-res showstopper, Home Movies 920-1 (2006), which filters its titular found footage through an enormous artist-engineered LED projection grid.
While there are enough depth charges and sheer entertainment to warrant several visits, what “California Video” amounts to, finally, is a celebratory advertisement for an enormous and laudable project to establish and maintain a crucial educational resource for artists and scholars. How that will manifest itself in terms of availability once the advertisement collapses back into the Getty Research Institute’s limited exhibition facilities is the big question. But until that happens, we have a glimpse of what the Long Beach Museum of Art’s video archives might have looked like if they had cornered the Saudi oil markets instead of relying on the kindness of strangers.
CALIFORNIA VIDEO | Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood | Through June 8 | (310) 440-7300