View of “Dear Nemesis, Nicole Eisenman 1993–2013,” 2014–15.
LAST APRIL, Cleopatra’s housed “Which arbitrary thing are you,” (April 6 to May 4, 2014) a two-person exhibition of sculpture and video by Sara Magenheimer and paintings by Sadie Laska. All of the works were from 2014, with the exception of Magenheimer’s seven-minute video, One Vast Focus, 2011, in which footage of a woman playing tuba before a grove of trees opens onto a quaalude-paced concert scene overlaid with text from Ada Lovelace’s megalomaniacal-Romantic musings to her mother—“I can throw rays from every corner of the universe into one vast focus”—which is then read aloud by the artist in a droll digitized voice reminiscent of Robert Ashley’s in “Perfect Lives.” Early video art is also evoked in Magenheimer’s pigment print on wallpaper panel composites, Sun Room 1 and Sun Room 2. Both pieces layer a print of an isolated basketball net atop images of houseplants in wicker baskets. The signifiers evoke movement (“swoosh”), rhyme, and pun in a video-like layering of effects. Laska’s thirteen mixed-media paintings are discrete Rauschenbergian assemblages; the artist’s sense of humor and experimentation breeze across bricolage surfaces (a shirt, a sandal, a comb, a paper plate, to name a few) that, although three-dimensional, strongly convey a painterly plane. Laska does not appear to be preoccupied with the de- or re- or neo-construction of painting, rather, these works read as a genuinely capacious celebration of the action and the form.