Fiona Connor at the MAK Center
Beyond mere entry and exit, not much thought is given to the doors through which we pass every day. Closed Down Clubs, New Zealand-born, Los Angeles-based artist Fiona Connor’s latest exhibition, invited contemplation of the larger significations of such mundane portals. Housed at the MAK Center’s Mackey Garage Top (a sleek and airy space above a garage behind a Rudolf Schindler house), Connor’s exhibition was comprised of nine freestanding doors installed in a staggered, parallel formation, each emblazoned with printed or hand-written signs announcing the recent closure of the businesses to which they were once attached.
Like virtually all of Connor’s work, each of the sculptures included is a meticulous replication of an actual object. Having previously assumed such forms as bulletin boards, drinking fountains, and architectural infrastructure, her works are typically adorned with artist-drawn or screen-printed stickers, posters, or pamphlets to faithfully match the original reference as closely as possible. As relics of shared space, her works often bear traces of obsolescence or fatigue, expounded through the artist’s fastidious duplication of objects’ apparent wear or corrosion. Closed Down Clubs was no exception—one could sense the traffic that Connor’s chosen doors had experienced in their past lives, as seen in suspended animation (such as where sullied hands cumulatively left their mark in instances of worn-o paint or accumulated grime). With such minute attention to detail, Connor’s work offers a verisimilitude so precise that it could easily be mistaken for the real thing, which begs the question: why laboriously recreate an object that could simply be appropriated?
Unlike Danh Vo or Cameron Rowland, two artists whose use of the readymade foregrounds the compelling personal and political histories of their chosen objects, Connor’s work is a deft repetition of the real. Indeed, her readymade-once-removed production is a fiction residing in tandem with reality—meaning we are meant to understand that her work is a facsimile of lived experience at a particular place and time. With this, Connor mobilizes the deceptive surface of artifice not only to underscore the often-overlooked aesthetic qualities of quotidian objects, but also what they communicate about the societies in which they function.
By Thomas Duncan