Review: Filmic follies from Eric White at Martha Otero
By Leah Ollman
Eric White is a bit of a vandal, or better yet, a misappropriationist. He traffics in the tropes of cinema, capitalizing on the familiar appeal of movie theaters, screen shots, intertitles and lobby cards, warping them to amusing and disconcerting effect.
In "Pentaplex Coming Attractions," he visualizes the five-screen theater as a single absurd and strangely authoritarian space with seats in the center and projections on all sides, perfect for brainwashing through hyperstimulation.
In "Rom Com," he zooms in on hands holding notes, telegrams, mug shots and business cards. The style is decidedly retro (all is painted in black and white; the notes handwritten in classic cursive), but the words are subversively contemporary.
He pays homage to the lobby card in another piece, painting walls full of time and genre-bending titles, such as "Too Many Hensons," starring Jim, the puppet-meister, and Matthew, the Arctic explorer and "I Was a Teenage Microwave Nacho Chef." Hilarity, parody and reverence perfectly packaged.
The paintings and drawings strike a resonant chord -- nostalgic and at the same time also vaguely futuristic, even dystopian. White, based in New York, has a devilish sense of humor. It can be barbed but also thin.
For the installation, "1/3-Scale Retrospective," he commissioned a Chinese enterprise to create miniature versions of 14 of his paintings, which he hung knee-high, with tiny labels. The work elicits only a one-liner laugh, in spite of its greater potential as commentary on authorship, outsourcing, Chinese exports, and a contemporary, politicized riposte to Duchamp's "Boite-en-Valise."