1227 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dark Night of the Soul presents an installation of mutually inspired music and photography that join to create a dismal and sinister tone, much like one would expect in a psychological thriller sans dialogue and moving images. It is no surprise that the famed filmmaker David Lynch is responsible for the photographs and the renowned Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse for the music. Songs play back to back from two pairs of speakers in the two adjoined, carpeted rooms with fifty photographs lining the walls in threes and fours. Recurring images of domesticity— including green lawns, beds, and families—accompany photographs that are either strikingly crisp or distorted, blurred, and dimly lighted. The ragged guitar and piercing vocals linger in the background, certain lyrics jumping out and linking with the images in the photographs.
Obscured images with equally murky content comprise the majority of the show. In a series of four rectangular photographs, one woman stands in near darkness over a foreboding object, a glowing light shines on her chest, a glowing gun rests on the bed, and she stands in her bathrobe over a sink of barely visible dirty dishes. Burning and blurring faces appear in several of the sets of photographs, creating a thread between the different images and suggesting the malleability of identity, particularly from good into evil. A decapitated, oversized head rests on a dinner table, an arm presents a trail of fresh blood, a girl in a pale blue party dress dances over a flaming barbeque pit with no food on it. Dark humor also compliments the pervasive literal and metaphorical darkness. In one set of images, an unfit young man in glasses and awkwardly fitted underwear poses with a dumbbell, in a cape, and at a table with a berry smoothie.
Through broad ideas of the home, represented in dinner tables, front lawns, bedsides, and dirty dishes; through the motif of death and destruction, represented with severed heads, blood, and devilish faces; and through the menacing music, the show creates a general impression embodied in its title, with its strengths in the overall mood conveyed more than in the particulars.
(Images from top to bottom: Dark Night of the Soul Alternate Poster; Image from Dark Night of the Soul; Images courtesy the artists and Michael Kohn Gallery)