The sole piece in Stephen Neidich’s exhibition “Making the rounds (a place to wait)” occupies the middle of the room. Dozens of chains connected to rotating camshafts hang from the ceiling. They flit above a loose rectangle of broken concrete chunks, slapping and sliding endlessly, senselessly, against the stones’ jagged surfaces. It all seems ultra-macho, industrial, coyly S and M. Yes, to all that. The swinging movement is dangerous and effete, the sashay of a giant squid idling near the bumpy ocean bottom.
Ambivalent is the mood. The artist’s adoption of a Minimalist vocabulary pairs the obstinance and violence of industrial materials with the contemplative, musical potential of repetitive mechanical movement. While the contact looks frantic and haphazard, the rhythm is regular, less like clangs than chimes. The links of the chains unfurl in a shimmering sequence; their weight steadily erodes the stone.
Given enough time, this movement would reduce the base to a sand pile. But that erasure, a vision of the future, would require a longer exhibition run. In tacking on the parenthetical “a place to wait” to the show’s title, the artist provides a gentle instruction: Wait and see. The concrete is sourced from a Frogtown construction site, one of many gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhoods. A question emerges: What becomes of a space, a neighborhood, a city, when it is seen as a place to pass the time, a plot of land to profit from, a mere stop along the way? Perhaps it becomes something like Neidich’s piece, where limbs scour for roots in upturned earth, a slowly disintegrating base.
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