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Review: Cardak Ni Na Nebu Ni Na Zemiji 

D. Eric Bookhardt on a show that juxtaposes old gas stations and Soviet-era monuments

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What do abandoned local gas stations and Soviet-era monuments have in common? The short answer is Srdjan Loncar, a New Orleans-based Croatian expat artist, who used them as the basis for this Barrister's show. The title, Cardak Ni Na Nebu Ni Na Zemlji, is from a Serbian fairytale and means "a castle neither in the sky nor on earth," which to Loncar suggests monumental structures that once had a purpose but which now exist in limbo — if they still exist at all. Designed in the 1960s by Yugoslavia's leading modern sculptors as military memorials when that nation was the most progressive place in the former Soviet empire, they are now bizarre monuments to a vanished communist past, just as defunct gas stations memorialize the reign of fossil fuels. Loncar's photographs (pictured) and scale-model metal sculptures distill them into design statements that celebrate the surrealism of unintended consequences.

  Irish artist Malcolm McClay extends this exploration in his collaged graphics of partially completed luxury homes that were abandoned when the housing bubble burst in Ireland, leaving numerous ruinous monuments to greed and broken dreams. The tone turns elegiac in Christopher Saucedo's ghostly white abstractions on blue handmade paper that are really ectoplasmic impressions of the Twin Towers where his New York firefighter brother died on 9/11. Similar sentiments appear in Dawn DeDeaux's ghostly glowing sculptures of front steps to homes that were swept away by floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina. But in New Orleans, just about anything left unattended soon becomes a memorial for something, as we see in Angela Berry's photographs of everyday items like patio furniture that she recreated in miniature with a 3-D printer and arranged as glowing altars to the ordinary in an adjacent alcove. Similarly, Hannah Chalew's elegantly intricate ink drawings of vine-covered abandoned homes are reminders that everything is ultimately impermanent, and nature always has the last word. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT


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