L.A.'s Evolving Landscape
By HOLLY MYERS
Carrying a Cultural Message: There are few objects more representative of contemporary First World culture than the plastic shopping bag. Not only does the bag embody abstract principles that drive our economymass production, convenience, disposabilitybut it literally makes consumer capitalism possible, allowing us to buy many products at a time and transport them easily. We see and use so many bags in the course of a day, however, that we're not likely to pay them much attention before we discard or recycle them. By using plastic bags as her primary medium, Dianna Cohen halts the usual cycle of production, distribution and disposal and calls upon viewers to reevaluate the aesthetic potential of such a common object. To make the work, she sews fragments of bags together into carefully composed, quilt-like wall hangings. Some of these lay flat against the wall, while others hang in draping folds. They're playfully asymmetrical in composition and most are deliriously multicolored, though one of the most memorable is composed entirely in shades of pink, red and orange. Cohen's approach to her medium is not new or entirely uncommon. The use of ephemeral, commercial materials dates at least as far back as Cubism and Dada. Unlike much of the work that is produced in this vein, however, Cohen's pieces don't seem trashy or junky. In fact, they're as appealing as any mass-produced bag is meant to be. Rather than treating the used bags as byproducts or privileging their commercial qualities (nearly all of the works are happily free of logos), she focuses on their most exciting intrinsic qualities: bright, plastic color and sensual surfaces. There's an element of girlishness in this tactile enthusiasm that also offers a welcome respite from the typical trash aesthetic. Her approach does not ultimately deny the ephemerality of the objectsthe eventual fading and deterioration of each piece is predeterminedbut rather presents them as one might present a bouquet of cut flowers: all the more beautiful because of their inevitable decay.
Copyright July 20 2001, Los Angeles Times
Review: "Sex in Deep Space: The Art of Dianna Cohen, Jason Eoff, Barrie Goshko, David Allan Peters, Michael Salerno"
Even with the over-saturation of sexual imagery in commercial culture, in the hands of artists it can serve as an entry point to tremendous depths of feeling and perception. That feeling of being utterly transported by a work of art unites the pieces of five disparate artists in a special exhibition, Sex in Deep Space, at City Gallery in West Hollywood. Mounted by Marc Arranaga and Chip Tom, two of L.A.s most innovative independent curators, Sex in Deep Space features the art of Dianna Cohen, Jason Eoff, Barrie Goshko, David Allan Peters, and Michael Salerno.
Dianna Cohens medium, the plastic shopping bag, may seem to be the farthest thing from a sensual magic carpet. In her hands, they become playfully asymmetrical and joyously multicolored constructions, offering tactile temptation as they lay flat against or spill off the wall in voluptuous folds. Still embodying the abstract principles that drive a consumer economy, Cohens ostensibly trashy materials take on undreamed-of seductive qualities...
...Art historian Marc Arranaga became the curator of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Centers Advocate Gallery in 1999. Under his leadership, the Gallery has undertaken collaborative work with community organizations to explore a wide array of histories, cultures, and worldviews. In 2002, he created an academic lecture series aimed at providing first-hand opportunities to engage with emerging scholarship in the fields of art history and cultural studies. An independent curator, he now serves as the Gallerys Curator in Residence.
Chip Tom is an independent curator with 20 years experience in the contemporary art field. He has curated exhibitions at the Centre Dart Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as at numerous museums and galleries in the United States.
Copyright 2003, AbsoluteArts.com