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Arts & Culture

Sex and desolation: inside 'Seven Minutes'

Photo: Bryan Rindfuss, License: N/A

Bryan Rindfuss

A detail shot of Barbara Justice's contribution to "Seven Minutes Heaven."

The appeal of art openings isn't just in looking at the art (which is often difficult to see, hidden behind other viewers), but in the opportunity to look at people looking at art. But "Seven Minutes in Heaven," the one-night group show organized by Jessica Garcia and Linda Arredondo that was staged last Saturday in the tiny rooms of the decrepit Fox Motel, was different. With only four hours to do the "look at it and decide if I want to come back, then look at it again" game, the scene had an unusual sense of urgency. Which is a good thing.

And speaking of scene, people were talking about the art — a lot. Though some of the comments I heard were of the "how many rooms have you seen yet" variety, the discussion was more animated than usual. For many, a favorite was the dark, empty room off to the left of artist Jung-hee Mun's performance space. Reeking of cannabis smoke, it purveyed the sense of desolation and danger that sums up the Fox Motel — even though it wasn't an intentional part of the show.

The venue was a daunting location for artists to exhibit, having perhaps an overabundance of character. Daunting, too, for the organizers, who temporarily displaced many denizens of the night by renting the entire premises. A site-specific exhibition, the location itself could have been addressed with more energy by several participants. Barbara Justice met the challenge, though, decking the motel bed in her room with a field of papers, which brought pilfered credit cards and tossed business cards to mind.

But some responses were predictable. Writing with lipstick on the mirror happened — regrettably — more than once. Other artists responded more to the show's theme — erotics — than the location. Matt van Hellen portrayed himself times four in a nicely drawn daisy chain, while Vincent Valdez left off from fine draftsmanship to adopt a cartoon-like style. Wesley Harvey worked his signature homoerotics in a new medium, presenting collage work rather than his fine ceramics. All three placed new works that merit development.

Inevitably, Jung-hee Mun's hidden performance piece, which admitted only one person at a time, garnered much attention and a long line. For a price, one could enter a room to meet the artist, details not mentioned. What waited unexpectedly inside was a video camera, and the opportunity to help remove the artist's body hair. I had an inkling of the details of her performance ahead of time, and knew I did not want to participate, even if it might involve a tribute to Yoko Ono's 1965 Cut Piece. Did it work? We'll have to wait for the documentation.

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