Magazine article Artforum International

Diana Thater: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Magazine article Artforum International

Diana Thater: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Article excerpt

Diana Thater

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART

"The Sympathetic Imagination"--a title taken from J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello (2003)--aptly describes both the sensibility that runs through Diana Thater's practice and the artist's careful consideration of her viewer, as evidenced by this timely, generous, and thoughtfully curated survey. Divided between LACMA's Art of the Americas galleries and those of its Broad Contemporary Art Museum (unaffiliated with the Broad museum several miles east), this exhibition, organized by Lynn Cooke, senior curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and LACMA's Christine Y. Kim, animates and connects Thater's signature close encounters with other species.

Upon entrance to the Art of the Americas galleries, the viewer encounters knots + surfaces, 2001--footage of a swarm of bees that frenetically land on and launch from honeycombs--projected diagonally across the gallery onto the floor, wall, and ceiling. A bank of sixteen monitors, collectively displaying a single image of a bright orange flower, acts as the fantastical prompt for the frenetic hive. The vibrant and translucent coloration continues in the next room, where Thater's Untitled Videowall (Butterflies), 2008, enlarges and abstracts her subjects' wings. The rectangular monitors, arranged screen-side up to form a prone pinwheel on the gallery floor, effectively direct our attention toward the four doorways of the room. Beyond this emanates the watery blue of Delphine, 1999, a multichannel work projected onto the high gallery walls and floor, immersing us amid a pod of dolphins. LED lights and colored gels on the gallery windows intensify the phenomenological journey, warmly accentuating the interaction of the viewer's shadow with the projections and providing a sense of commonality with Thater's animals and insects. …

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