The long stretch of Santa Monica where I once-upon-a-time commuted from a humble craftsman with more roommates than there were rooms to a chi-chi boutique where the diamonds in my charge were given more room to breathe than my fellow tuna-canned bus passengers pressed together in mutually unsatisfactory intimacy. The mood, demeanor, and politics of any given day were, to an extent, influenced by the mode of transportation that morning: bus, bike, lurchy pre-owned vehicle about the same age as me. In Los Angeles, public transport can breed anomie; cars, Stockholm syndrome. On a bike, there is danger but also freedom, a sudden propinquity with the landscape that creates an immediate awareness akin to aliveness.
When it comes to sloganeering, t-shirts and bumper stickers are par for the discourse. Sweaters and bicycles make themselves known. Flying by in her politically charged knitwear, Lisa Anne Auerbach looks—against all odds stacked up by the innocuous connotations of these "mediums"—pretty fucking radical.
Installation view; Courtesy Gavlak Gallery
Lisa Anne Auerbach makes words into thingies. “As consciousness is harnessed to flesh,” in the words of Susan Sontag, so ideas are ostensibly latched to materials until they become not just indivisible, but invisible. Auerbach gently pries them apart with an elegance and acrobatics that go beyond some reductive interplay between form and content.
Yarnspun compositions like #HASHINGITOUT (2014) is one of several ways homeless ideas get caught in her knitting machine, and silly plays on words become a manifest confrontation with the logorrhea slipping idly through our thumbs on a daily basis. Hashtags do not care to challenge their own disposability. This is why #phraseslikethis tend to appear only on (literally) disposable fashion. Auerbach's knits, whether pinned to the wall like a pious cross-stitch or fashioned into funny fitting outfits, live beyond fashion’s ken.
Lisa Anne Auerbach, American Magazine #1, 2013. 24 page ink jet printed, custom staple bound, 60 x 30 in.; Courtesy Gavlak Gallery
The outsized copies of American Megazine, issues #1 and #2 (circulation: five), articulate an essence of form with a keenness and humor artists have been clamoring at since Charles Ray’s early '90s mannequin based sculpture. While the language is plain, the mere scale of issue #1 provides lodging for the ineffable anxiety the suburban monolith known as the Mega Church produces only in the most spectacularly failed evangelical hearts.
Ideas in motion, words on bodies, reading material too unwieldy for a single pair of hands… in a conceptual double negative, Auerbach marries throwaway ideas with throwaway forms, adding uncanny gestures to lend these couplings an uncanny permanence.
(Image on top: Lisa Anne Auerbach, #HASHINGITOUT, 2014, Knitted wool on linen, 63 x 80 inches; Courtesy Gavlak Gallery)