Art review: Elad Lassry at the David Kordansky Gallery

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Rarely is there enough visual information in a photograph by Elad Lassry to quite tell what is going on in the picture. That’s the reverse of what most photographs intend, dedicated as they typically are to delivering data selectively plucked from the quotidian world. Since we live in an engorged image-environment, where we are continuously hectored by photographs that purport to be telling us stuff, the subtle absence disorients.

Lassry’s marvelously peculiar show of a dozen recent photographs and a film at David Kordansky Gallery seems determined to head in a different direction from the photographic norm. He pulls information out of his pictures, draining it away.

Sometimes the method takes a while to see. A purple stripe down the center of what appears to be a publicity still obscures the show-biz image of a female entertainer who, at the margins, appears to be all spangles, ostrich feathers and curly blond hair. Look closely, though, and the stripe has been scratched and flaked, exposing bits of the hidden woman underneath; she becomes a postmodern Gypsy Rose Lee.

Sometimes the method is simple.

The colored frames of these modestly sized C-prints, each about 11 by 14 inches, derive their hues from
the dominant color within the photograph. For a couple of traditional black-and-white gelatin silver-prints, the frames turn out to be silver. In both cases the gesture italicizes photography’s inherent artificiality, which is routinely obscured by our submersion in the image-world.


This repetitive gesture also establishes a larger frame of reference — one that gets interrupted in the middle of the show and overturned at the end. Halfway through the sequence of still photographs, a 16-millimeter film is projected in a continuous loop on the wall. Slightly larger than the stills, the size of the moving image seems to reflect our natural inclination to give more attention to a movie’s time-based demands — or, come to think of it, is that extra attentiveness acculturated, a learned behavior?

At the end, reading all the pictures from left to right, a cluster of four snapshots shows a couple of young boys playing basketball in an ordinary domestic driveway. Do the gold frames on these pictures, which don’t appear to follow the material logic of the colored and silver frames we’ve just seen, sanctify the youthful imagery of play?

The works in this exhibition, Lassry’s second gallery solo, play with a variety of established photographic forms, including animal images, advertising, nudes, souvenir snapshots, portraiture and more. It’s hard to make a photograph ask a question, but Lassry makes the questioning look easy.

– Christopher Knight

David Kordansky Gallery, 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-3030, through Oct. 24. Closed Sun. and Mon.