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Review: New works at St. Claude Avenue galleries

D. Eric Bookhardt on the latest exhibits at Byrdie's Gallery and Barrister's Gallery



Are people becoming more generic? Like it or not, we are increasingly wired into an invisible world of electronic networks that know way too much about us. How long before they take over and turn us into hi-def replicas of ourselves? Such are the thoughts inspired by Sarah Amacker's graphically modified photos that stylishly flatten her subjects into two dimensions. Some even have bar codes. Self Check Out: Who Am I? (pictured) is emblematic, a geometrically exaggerated high-fashion babe no doubt with perfect teeth somewhere behind the big bar code that displays her identity as a commodity. Even the ones without bar codes are flat and geometric. Yet as commodities in their own right, Amacker's photographic concoctions are shockingly inexpensive. What gives? It seems that in real life she's a Baton Rouge biologist who does art on the side. Perhaps she is an evolutionary biologist, a savant warning us of what we may all become in the not so distant future.

More graphical extrapolations appear at Barrister's Gallery, in Wendell Brunious' Buried Alive painterly pop collages of comic strip characters interwoven with visions of black female stardom, most pointedly in the form of Whitney Houston. Something about the way this is layered is both musical and wavelike, suggesting a visual dirge for the drowned diva. The mood turns ambiguous in Vanessa Centeno's abstract compositions, where viscous reds vie with more bilious shades in works mingling saturated sensuality with creepy science fiction overtones. If this sounds noir, it is.

  Ryn Wilson's large pseudo film stills of elegant women carrying valises deep into foggy forests, or appearing only as a pair of shapely lifeless legs under a blue velvet dress, convey a darkly atmospheric romanticism, a hint of looming oblivion accompanied, implicitly, by an elegant soundtrack. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

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