Art review: Gardar Eide Einarsson at Honor Fraser


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At least since the French Revolution, the barricade has been a symbol of last-ditch resistance to oppressive, authoritarian forces, a visual and physical act of sheer negation. Gardar Eide Einarsson is no stranger to the trappings of government opposition, around which much of his previous work has centered. At Honor Fraser, the New York artist has brought the barricade indoors, taming it as a species of Minimalist sculpture.

An oblong pile of black car tires studded with white resin casts of bamboo poles (the design is inspired by last year’s anti-government protests in Thailand) seems appropriate amid the car culture of L.A. and in particular South La Cienega Boulevard, where galleries mingle with automotive repair shops. However, by bringing the barricade inside, Einarsson has evacuated any latent, subversive energy the form may have had. Installed lengthwise in the gallery, it doesn’t even obstruct viewers’ access to the other side of the room.


At best, the piece is a ghost of a barricade, its chalky white bamboo rods akin to bones in a rubber graveyard. Is it a lament, then, for a perceived death of grassroots resistance? If so, it seems a cynical gesture when people all over the world still take to the streets to be heard. One of the hallmarks of Minimalist sculpture was that it could require the viewer to reckon with its immediate physical presence. Einarsson’s effort seems to gesture in that direction — to confront the viewer with something of the palpable reality of popular struggles — but it never quite escapes the hermetically sealed world of the gallery, or of art, for that matter. And perhaps that is the point — if he were to build the barricade across South La Cienega, it wouldn’t be art anymore, but action.

-- Sharon Mizota

Honor Fraser, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 837-0191, through Feb. 12. Closed Sundays and Mondays.