Liza Berkoff and Liliana Porter first met on opening night of their show at Carrie Secrist Gallery, but to look at their work it’s easy to imagine the two have been talking about their respective views of the world for years. Porter approaches ideas of labor and production by playing with scale, using architectural model miniature people to illustrate futility in consumer culture. She does it humorously, however; tiny painters in “To See Red” with infinite wall to cover, construction workers in “For Labor” jack-hammering endlessly in space, a woman knitting something hundreds of times her size, creating the sense that we toil for nothing in our self-involved bubbles, unaware, maybe even happy in our unawareness. Berkoff, on the other hand, addresses an opposing end of that futility by photographing the random desolation of consumer culture after the fact. In “Aisle of the Dolls,” we see the toy shelf at Unique Thrift, upon which a dirty life-sized Barbie bust sits in smiling splendor. She looks self-important, as if she’s the belle of the ball, unaware of the dirty smudges on her face and dirtier toys littered around her. She’s been discarded and forgotten, but she’s damn proud of the perfect arc of her blue eyeliner. It’s a piece rich in metaphor. “Curbside” is poignant because of what we don’t see in the photo, the person who owns the cheap toys lined on a curb, hoping to sell them to help him carve out a living for his family. It’s an image of our current economic depression, in which consumption of such cheap Darth Vader and Spiderman and Tweetie Bird toys support a socio-economic sickness rampant the world over. Together, these two artists offer an invigorating view of where we are. (Damien James)
Through January 17 at Carrie Secrist Gallery, 835 W. Washington Blvd.