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Farrah Karapetian at Sandroni Rey

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Farrah Karapetian works inventively with photography’s elemental ingredients — light and time. In her show at Sandroni Rey, the recent UCLA MFA presents striking, memorable work, alongside efforts that haven’t quite gelled.

A DVD projection visualizing the artist as human sundial, for instance, starts with a nice concept but realizes it in a slight and tedious way. Another video, viewed through an actual car door mounted on the wall, feels under-conceived and overproduced.

The centerpiece, in terms of scale and interest, is “Stowaway,” a stunning six-panel photogram that spans 20 feet in width.

Photograms are physical traces, made by placing an object directly on sensitized paper and exposing it to light; his one, depicting a soda truck with a passenger amid the cargo, is necessarily life-size, a ghost image in translucent graphite tones. Karapetian has constructed the scene more like a metaphor than a record, absenting the driver and setting individual bottles in rows on shelves rather than in cases. The man stands among them in gleaming white silhouette, an emblem of displacement.

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Karapetian’s fascination with surveillance and the hidden comes across as well in a series of photograms of signs, notices that the premises are being videotaped or patrolled. She double- or triple-exposes the prints so that each sign overlaps itself in a disorienting stutter or, in the case of “Caution,” spelling a darkly poetic epigram.

Two signs warning drivers of people crossing the freeway on foot — horrifically absurd responses to illegal immigration to begin with — overlap to suggest the word “‘cautionaut,’” an apt description of one who travels through dangerous space.

Sandroni Rey, 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 280-0111, through Oct. 24. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.sandronirey.com\

--Leah Ollman

Above: Stowaway Photo credit: Courtesy of Sandroni Rey gallery


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