Recycled Reality

The artist duo Guerra de la Paz turns rags into artistic riches

Other pieces in the main gallery suggest one season or another, with a couple of them -- the waterfall of Cascade, the plant springing out of Hydroponic -- ambiguously situated in the scheme of things. Most of the works in the remaining galleries also adhere, at least minimally, to the exhibition's stated theme, although with an exception or two, the going gets rougher. For instance, Flutter, a strobe-lit installation of sequined butterflies at the end of the show, seems weirdly out of sync with everything else. And Convoy, which features a faux highway lined with four little vinyl trucks, each packed with a T-shirt, feels only marginally linked. Several other pieces seem similarly superfluous.

One exception is the four-part title piece, The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, which has the museum's long, narrow central gallery all to itself. Each of four big white cubes is topped with a "tree" (and ground cover) appropriate to the season, and the attention to detail is amazing, even if the overall effect is garish.

But the biggest exception is Ito's Roadside Picnic, an elaborate installation in which de la Paz's acknowledged Dalí influence runs rampant. It features a wooden picnic table set on grassy-green garments dotted with little yellow flowers, bordered by a patch of "plants" that bear an unsettling resemblance to hungry mouths. A strange little creature of some sort with a beverage sits on one side of the table, which is covered with a spread that's as repellent as it is fascinating: shot glasses with eyeballs, a plastery-looking dip accompanied by crackers made of mirrors, a margarita glass filled with a fake breast, a cake made of fur, and -- lending new meaning to the term "finger food" -- a bowl filled with mannequin fingers.

This hellish déjeuner sur l'herbe is hardly subtle in its critique of consumerism. But the outrageous extremes work in its favor -- how can something so exuberantly, unashamedly over the top be accused of taking itself too seriously?

I'm not so sure about much of the rest of "The Four Seasons," which at first feels refreshingly silly but ends up seeming contrived, gimmicky, and a little too self-satisfied. The Guerra de la Paz guys speak, in the Arte al Dia interview, of "the modern myth that the Earth is an infinite resource and, at the same time an infinite garbage can..." (They're alluding to a piece not included in this exhibition, but the same aesthetic applies.)

"We believe that human energy is embodied in these garments, and when they are gathered in large quantities you really feel their presence," the quote continues. "Each piece of clothing is unique, and when singled out they can reveal a small part of the identity of the individual who once wore them."

And piece by piece, the emperor's clothes start to fall away.

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