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“Jupiter Finger” at Real Pain


Just in time for the rising heat of summer, or “fire season,” as it’s now referred to in the Southland, the group show at Real Pain muses on ecological shifts in our climate and bodies as the world warms and industrializes. 

“If all the iron in our body were collected, we’d get a small cog, just large enough to hold together a wristwatch,” the press release terrifyingly states. Throughout the show, manmade and organic materials mix and molt together — metals and resins sharing space with wood, dirt, and plant matter. Lyric Shen’s “Jewel Stand” is a metal base topped with a circular form in which clay, a condom, and plant matter is encased in resin. Sam Shoemaker’s “Vessel #5” is a small wood sculpture resembling a house from which reishi mushrooms sprout from its roof and sidewalls. Benjamin Reiss’ “Magic Drinking Bird (Again) II (Showtime)” blends eggshells and bird feathers with MDF to create a drinking bird that feels like a hybrid of the toy and a zazzy Mr. Peanut. Other works feel more ethereal, taking a more cosmic view on the human condition, like Anja Salonen’s painting “Crossed Paths,” which feels like a spell to conjure some kind of astrological intervention.

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Photo: “Jupiter Finger,” installation at Real Pain, 2021. Image courtesy of the artists and Real Pain, Los Angeles.