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Art Diary International 2013/2014
is now out, packed with contact information for galleries, museums, artists, curators, critics, and other professional arts services around the world.

Brian Bress
Sonia Campagnola



Remember Mike Kelley’s The Banana Man, or Tony Oursler’s early ’80s videos like The Loner or Evol, where handcrafted expressionistic environments were settings for the introspective witticisms of odd characters? Or even better, Devo’s 1980 music video for Whip It? Brian Bress’s new 19-minute-long video Status Report (2009) — the centerpiece of his first solo show at Cherry and Martin, which includes sculptural objects, collages and photos that functioned as props and studies for the video — follows this same lineage of funky characters in low-tech, cartoon-like settings.


BRIAN BRESS, Status Report (still), 2009. Single channel video, color, sound, 19 min, 10 sec. Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles.


In Status Report, Bress’s world is grotesque and psychologically charged. A vaudevillestyle comedy with slapstick elements, it develops around the gags of several camp figures — all played by the artist — each in his own environment made of basic pieces of furniture and backdrops with drawings and collages: a boxer punching against his own bedroom wall; an astronaut traveling through outer space in a cardboard box; or a miner speculating about the difference between the words “work” and “hobby.”

These short sketches, edited together in a broken narrative, show these lonely characters repeating actions and jingles in a state of isolation, enclosed in their own worlds. That is, until they evade their original spaces and enter those of other characters, as when the miner enters the boxer’s bedroom through a hole in a huge Rorschach blot drawn on the wall. Bress plays with these passages, shifts and overlapping realities, just as he plays with the notions of subject and background, going back and forth from tri-dimensional to bi-dimensional space: from the space of imagination to the space of representation.


BRIAN BRESS, Status Report (still), 2009. Single channel video, color, sound, 19 min, 10 sec. Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles.


Although animated by puns, comic gags and eccentric colors, Status Report is dark comedy, dealing with alienation, nonsensical narrative and hallucinatory perception. “Because it’s depression,” reads a sign on a white screen leaning against the white wall of, presumably, the artist’s studio — suggesting that this is the space, both mental and physical, of invention and art.


Flash Art 269  NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2009

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