As a theme, mass media, either digital or mechanical, has been worked to death by artists in recent decades, so it's noteworthy that the two very different approaches in the Classified expo at Barrister's Gallery, curated by the University of New Orleans' Chris Saucedo, still seem fresh. Aaron McNamee subverts the processes of mechanical media by gluing an entire year of Times-Picayune newspapers — some 4,196 pages — into a 400-pound block of ink and cellulose. More pages of the paper, with print and images crammed into illegibility, appear as plywood-like panels and tiles in smaller stacks. The news and its media are ephemeral, yet here pages that once held all that was weighty in the world are congealed into dead weight and reduced to inert blocks of abandoned information in a weird entombment.
In digital media, the tiny pixels of light, dark and color are weightless yet still convey the gravity of hopes, fears, dreams and obsessions. Computer screens are electric streets employing the inherently fetishistic nature of photographic imagery, and the women seen in Nina Schwanse's virtual catalog of women for hire — bubbly babes, drag queens and intellectual, technical, menial or bondage subjects — comprise a taxonomy of attraction encoded in male and female psyches via movies and mass-media idioms, those electronically stimulated concourses of the imagination where fantasies coincide with commerce. Here Schwanse provocatively explores those shadow realms where individual and mass psyches intersect in the chimerical interplay of allure and its guises. That ephemeral aspect of how the imagistic mind works is further explored in Jules Hindman's digital projections on gauzy passageways that replicate the movement of the viewer in a kind of interactive hall of mirrors at the UNO-St. Claude Gallery. The effect of the veiled repetitive imagery is, at its best, hypnotic, recalling how waves of impressions accumulate as memories — all of which make for a neat contrast with Hettie Haudenschield's evocative nature-based expressionism in the adjacent chamber. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Thru March 5
Classified: New Work by Aaron McNamee and Nina Schwanse
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506; www.barristersgallery.com
Thru March 6
MFA Thesis: Jules Hindman
UNO-St. Claude Gallery, 2429 St. Claude Ave., 280-6493; wwwfinearts.uno.edu/artpage.html