I love the idea behind Ginny Bishton's latest exhibition, "The News Threw Her," at the Richard Telles gallery in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the result doesn't live up to its promise.
The L.A. artist identified 18 short stories published around the turn of the 20th century that are in the public domain and feature female characters.
She embarked on the arduous task of transcribing each story using brightly colored pens onto modest, white panels according to a predefined system. Each panel is covered with a cluster of thick, diagonal bars -- the result of Bishton's writing the words atop one another until they became solid forms. When pieced together, the panels spell out, in jagged, negative space, the title of the exhibition.
There are also "end notes" — a smaller group of panels reflecting the authors' biographical information — as well as an audio recording of people reading excerpts from the stories, and another drawing that looks like a bar graph of the audio.
The project inhabits a truly intriguing intersection between listening, reading, writing and image making, as long-forgotten stories are reanimated and given new life. I wish the resulting works really "threw" me, but they feel too reticent. As is sometimes the case with systems-driven projects, a great idea doesn't always result in great art.