Who Killed Bambi?

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Who Killed Bambi?
Curated by: Chris Hoff

9200 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630-5897
September 5th, 2007 - September 27th, 2007
Opening: September 5th, 2007 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

orange county
Mon-Fri 10-2

Who Killed Bambi?

Curated by Chris Hoff
Featuring: Mindy Cherri, Sarah FitzSimons, Diana Markessinis, Liz Young & Carrie Yury

Sept. 5th to Sept. 27th
Reception for the Artists: Wednesday, Sept. 5th from 7 to 9pm
Cypress College Art Gallery
9200 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA 90630
Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 10am – 2pm
                            Tuesday – Wednesday 6-8pm        

I didn’t even know Bambi was dead. But in contemplating the work of the five artists assembled by The Office’s Chris Hoff for this iconoclastic group exhibition, it starts to seem obvious.
In fact the conceptual foundation of the show is both less shocking and more subversive than even its title implies, as the Los Angeles and Orange County-based artists included each in turn address the leitmotif of Nature from a range of vaguely hostile, ironic and suspicious points of view.
Why, their work seems to wonder, is nature always assumed to be superior to the manufactured or urban or cultural or intellectual? How did it acquire its cloak of purity when in fact Nature is a dark, damp, gusty place of death and survival, hardship and frustration? And why is the natural world idealized in a culture so consistently at war with it?
Diana Markessinis creates a sculptural forest of barren trees constructed from recycled cardboard and metal. Her forms resemble the organic and deracinated limbs of trees and woody plants, but its anaerobic sterility makes a comment not on the inherent majesty of the environment but rather of its frailty in the face of human progress and development.
Liz Young’s personal motto is: “Producing the extraordinary by rethinking the common” and that’s exactly what she does. From animal mannequins sporting stretched fabric girdles, to human and animal parts coated in polyurethane, Young routinely pits human and animal bodies against the demands of industry and commerce, with mixed results. Her penchant for the ironically hand-crafted produces work like that for this exhibition, photographic hunting targets of deer layered with hand-embroidered images of birds and trees, rendering the targets no less functional.
Mindy Cherri’s wall-mounted trophy antlers boast sexy woven sleeves of Swarovski crystals, in a comment on the absurdity of treating nature as bling -- expensive accessories that are part of the décor and have no soul. Her very act of beautifying, stylizing and adding value to the dead antlers highlights both the attractiveness of the collecting impulse as it finds its parallel in fine art, and the outrageous fetishism of both worlds.
Carrie Yury’s “Traces” series portrays a variety of terrains from snowy fields to shadowy hillside hollows that each contain evidence of violence such as blood or ambiguous remains. Her photographs are chromatically saturated, often showing extreme close-ups and shifting focal planes to imbue her off-kilter views of nature with menace and mystery, evoking repulsion and a visceral curiosity.
And finally the video and installation artist Sarah FitzSimons will show “Orogeny”, a video work depicting her failed attempts to erect a custom tent of her own design whose outline replicates that of the Grand Teton range. Camped on the ridge from which the view was originally taken, she does her best to set the tent up in front of them, but the wind blows it over and in the end she is defeated. Her message seems to be that no matter what we do or how well laid are our plans or compelling our ideas, Nature will always get the better of us. Fortunately, FitzSimons and her fellows in “Who Killed Bambi” seem to be making the best of the situation.
-- Shana Nys Dambrot
Los Angeles 2007