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Peter Sarkisian
at James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Kathryn M. Davis

Continuing through July 24, 2010

If there were such a thing as the color “candy-apple yellow,” Peter Sarkisian nailed it in his blazing wall reproduction of a Ferrari roaring around, crashing and squealing with lots of noise and action. The piece, “Registered Driver,” is the first in a series to come, and this one features the artist as driver. Turns out the driver has a little drinking problem, and given the horrifying statistics about drunk driving in Sarkisian’s home state of New Mexico, “Registered Driver” hits particularly close-to-home. Ghostly in the backseat, his father appears and disappears with each lurch, while glass crackles with every collision. A helpless victim, the backseat passenger represents every innocent bystander, defenseless against the consequences of a potentially devastating accident. The artist also leaves no doubt about the brazen appeal of driving a muscle car dangerously fast.

Two other video offerings complete this show of new works by Sarkisian, known for upending video as an art medium. “Dusted” is a head scratcher: A cube (and five projectors) traps a man and a woman, naked and filthy in their own muck. An accompanying sound track whispers, stream of consciousness-wise, a litany of names. It’s a relief to go back and consider the tranquil “Puddle,” a single-projector piece that depicts violet paint dripping slowly onto the floor. Its quietude is a relief after racing cars and boxed-up people. Sometimes Sarkisian plays it a bit too close to the ubiquitous video game — but that’s also why this exhibition is so much fun.

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