D-L Alvarez: University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Article excerpt

Replete with spectacular references that range from infamous crimes to pop-cultural benchmarks, D-L Alvarez's work unfailingly invites interpretations driven by his fascinating interests and almost always neglectful of what the artist has done with and to his chosen source material.

[text incomplete in original source] tar, silicone, even dead fish. There were no talking heads or lengthy wall labels to provide context; instead, an informational stop-action animation was projected from a pig's asshole. Bacium Sub Cauda (Kiss Under the Tail) (all works 2012 unless otherwise noted) presents an allegory about the mass killing of the domestic pig's hardy, adaptable brethren in Haiti, Cuba, and Egypt, and its subsequent replacement by coddled European varieties--through the subtitled snorts of black, spotted, and pink clay swine. (Quips one pig, "Hmph, some Arab Spring. More like Harvest Slaughter.") Elsewhere, another video, Inanimate Object, related a Yoruba legend of a golden woman (a recast Queen Victoria), while a greatly enlarged Xerox of a field ethnog-rapher's image (Framing Device, 2011) doubled as a scrim. Lin provided a surfeit of art-historical and ethnographic interconnections here, most of which likely evaded the casual viewer. But the deeper one plunged into the show, the more its weird, crude museology asserted its terrible hybridization of concepts.

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Lin's objects advance a contentiously puerile analysis, obscurely tied to rituals surrounding their materials. A desiccated, life-size Eskimo figure, The Lingering Smell, hiding out in the back hallway, wore a coat quilted with anchovies and shriveled roots carved into fertility fetishes. The figure's fur leggings were decorated with salt cod, while a chili pepper and a pair of dates, covered with plastic wrap, formed his exposed cock. The postcolonial critique behind Lin's theatrico-primitive aesthetic was most rawly apparent in Exploited Painting--a veiny sculpted penis dangling from a verdant Haitian landscape painting, dribbling into a punch bowl on an antique table. Related iconography reappeared in a set of nine individually titled dildos lined up on a white ledge and encased in bell jars. …