Two machines with conceptual liveliness built in at Redling Fine Art

Two machines with conceptual liveliness built in at Redling Fine Art
Olga Koumoundouros, "Denial and Longing for the Big Nap," 2014, mixed media. (Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times)

An eccentric pair of diabolical machines – one by Olga Koumoundouros, the other by Eric Wesley – seem to propose technological absurdity as an inevitable outcome of modern life. At Redling Fine Art, both sculptures vaguely allude to the human figure.

Wesley's "Clean Machine (Turkish Style)," made in 2008, is a small, top-loading domestic washing machine that the artist put to bad use. Filling the drum with water and dry cement, he turned the washer on and let it spin. The cement set, the engine burned to a crisp and a useless half-cylinder of solid concrete was left behind.


Process art of a distinctly irrational kind, it takes a "what would happen if" approach -- pretty much just for the heck of it.

Wesley removed the cement-larded drum and set it atop the washer. The sculpture is a playful cross among an abstract sculpture on a pedestal, a comic-book idea of high technology and an android from an old Saturday afternoon B-movie serial. It is visually rather inert, though conceptually lively.

By contrast, Koumoundouros' recent "Denial and Longing for the Big Nap" literally moves. A revolving, mechanized display stand is festooned with semi-inscrutable objects – small balls, a Duchamp-style plastic vulva mold, a blown-glass finial, a gilded sign extolling "Competition" and a woman's handbag attached by a heavy gold chain. The whole ensemble rests atop a white pillow, slyly nodding in the direction of Robert Rauschenberg's "Odalisk," a classic mid-1950s combine.

The artist, however, is hardly luxuriating in exotic sensuality. The handbag hangs at the bottom, dragging and bumping along the floor as the display slowly turns – a clever image of Sisyphean drudgery.

Her antipathy for it all is also paraded in a similarly well-conceived way. Near the top, a female leg dressed in papier-mâché and a thigh-high boot juts out from the revolving rack. Since a viewer needs to lean in close to examine the odd objects on display, it is necessary to keep an eye out for the boot-kick headed your way.

Back off, the sculpture says.

A handout says the Wesley and Koumoundouros sculptures evoke the "Glomar response" -- the name for governmental refusal to either confirm or deny aspects of a news story, such as details of prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib, out of purported security concerns. (The term grew out of a Cold War saga first reported in the Los Angeles Times.) The link is a bit of a stretch, but with these sculptures the preposterousness certainly rings true.

Redling Fine Art, 6757 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 378-5238, through March 7. Closed Sun. and Mon.