Karen Lofgren: On the River

VOLUME @ South of Sunset
1218 W. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Opening Reception March 17 from 7:30 – 10:00PM
Gallery Hours March 19 – 20 from Noon – 5:00PM

VOLUME is pleased to present ‘On the River’, a solo exhibition by Karen Lofgren.

When it comes to matters of life and death, the meaning and rituals of sacrifice, the forms in which love is allowed to exist and made recognizable, and the structure of community, all of us find ourselves operating within an already existing system of beliefs. These, much like the written word, precede us, while retaining a certain dynamism that ensures futurity through a certain openness to change. Thus, even within the devastating histories of cultural erasure effected by colonialism, one witnesses the emergence of syncretic traditions, in a manner that speaks to the broader complexities of translation. Seeking converts, any one religion’s conception of the true Word is necessarily opened to new layers of meaning and possibilities of interpretation by transposition into a “foreign” tongue.

Yet the Virgin of Guadalupe not only says something (about history, culture, origins) – as an icon, it also inevitably occupies physical space. Belief systems, insofar as they effectuate a lived reconciliation of tradition with the direct experience of the present, demand a specific relationship to place, whether in the imposing force of a Gothic cathedral or the mobile, relational sign of a compass.

Something of these concerns informs a significant, ongoing strain in Karen Lofgren’s sculptural practice. Originally shown in Ritual Landscape, her 2015 show at Royale Projects in Palm Desert, Envy the Ocean! evokes a shadowy zone between creation and destruction. A series of four independent structures covered in black volcanic sand and glass eyes, suggesting both organic growth and urban decay, the work acts as a kind of border, implicating the viewer in a subdivision of the gallery space. One’s sense of being “inside” or “outside” of the sculpture mirrors an internal tension between the animate and the inanimate. If Envy the Ocean! implies a kind of stage, it’s also an audience, and it is by no means certain who or what is performing.

For On the River, this work is accompanied by a new sound installation, Laughter of Leaders #1: Jim Jones/White Noise. As the title suggests, the laughter of the infamous leader of the Peoples’ Temple is played at various speeds, accompanied by static. With an ambivalent relationship to its originating context, this laughter, as a pre-eminently human response, calls for a certain presentness, an attunement to the flux of the moment, in which meanings can be momentarily called into question or reinforced, while the current draws us patiently out to sea.
– Jared Baxter

About the Artist

Karen Lofgren is a Toronto-born and LA-based artist who completed her MFA at CalArts. Recent solo projects include Trajectory Object c. 2000-2050 at High Desert Test Sites; Stabilizers at Armory Center for the Arts; Ritual Landscape and Blood Sister at Royale Projects Contemporary Art, as well as shows at LACE; Pitzer Art Galleries; PØST; and Machine Project. Past work has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts; the Durfee Foundation; the Ranch Projects; West of Rome Public Art; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She has been featured in Droste Effect, artforum.com critic’s picks, LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, as well as books, catalogues, and album covers.

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