Junk bonds are one thing, junk art quite another.
The former are notorious are notorious for making Wall Street look like an unregulated casino. The latter has a venerated history that stretches back to the Dadaists, by way of Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, Robert Rauschenberg, Bruce Conner, Wallace Berman, Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters.
At Regen Projects, “Walead Beshty: Selected Bodies of Work” mates a superficial understanding of junk art with the heartless soul of junk bonds. The result is a plentiful supply of small, medium and large pieces that set their sights on the aggressively speculative side of the art market. Arrogance rarely looks pretty, but in Beshty’s hands it’s particularly cynical.
One set of works consists of computers, printers and other pieces of office equipment that have been disemboweled and mounted on long silver rods — like shish kebabs for technology-eating aliens.
Another group is made up of broken pots, vases and slip-cast remains that Beshty has trash-picked from a ceramic studio in Guadalajara. He has arranged the fragments into three-dimensional still lifes, splashed glazes over them and re-fired the wobbly clusters in the studio’s kilns. As data analysts sometimes say: garbage in, garbage out.
A third series comprises hollow copper panels that Beshty and a crew of assistants have folded at various angles. Placed around the gallery like hamfisted origami, the shiny panels feature the handprints of the assistants who made them and the installers who hung them. That might be news to people who think art falls from the sky, but it’s a silly recapitulation of the cliché about originality residing in the artist’s touch.
Flayed newspapers, abstract photograms, polished aluminum remnants and pretentious, Christopher Williams-style photographs round out an exhibition that gets so repetitive it makes recycling seem like a bad idea.
Regen Projects, 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., (310) 276-5424, through April 5. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.regenprojects.com