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Kristina Kite Gallery

Sean Townley at Kristina Kite Gallery

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From KCRW’s Art Insider, Lindsay Preston Zappas:

At Kristina Kite in Mid-City, Sean Townley’s exhibition, “Bad News from the Colonies,” which is co-presented by Night Gallery, feels like a strange dream in which found objects merge with political ones to create imposing imperial talismans.

In the main gallery, a set of found objects anchor the room, each one transformed into a new arrangement via sculptural intervention. The found wooden objects feel Byzantine or regal in nature — a carved coffee table, two large wings, and a throne with three seats. The throne has been wrapped in a plastic sheath, held in place by a metal armature.

In the gallery, argon gas is being pumped into this plastic bubble. It’s apparently a preservation technique used on historic wooden objects to kill mold and insects.

I visited this show last Friday, before election results came in — my own political mental haze surely affected my viewing of these works.

This imposing gas chamber, titled “Gassing the Imperial Throne,” acts to protect the throne itself over all else, while also violently and antiseptically closing it off to outside influence, democratic or otherwise.

“JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE,” in the next room, is a recreation of a Supreme Court justice’s robe, upsized slightly. The robe lays fallen on a wooden plinth, covered in a thick resin so that it is frozen in this fallen form. Although made in 2019, on the heels of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, this work takes on new resonance.

As with all art viewing, context, world events, and one’s own reality intermingle with the artwork on view. Looking at these works as our democratic process was being contested by President Trump felt like a surreal reflection of the political conditions we’ve been living under for the last four years. I wonder how they might have felt different just a day later once the election results had come in.