The devil in the details

‘Drawn to Detail’ and ‘Laylah Ali’ at the DeCordova, Esteban Pastorino Díaz at the SMFA, and Student Loan Art Program at MIT
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  August 28, 2008

Laylah Ali, Untitled (2008)

In our multi-tasking, ADHD-prone world, where we watch two TV channels while texting and listening to our iPods, it’s hard to imagine stopping to look at drawings that don’t coalesce till you let them pull you in and spin you around a bit. Yet this kind of art work can also seem a canny mirror into the intricate twists and turns of our neural network, a reflection of the complexity of our cognitive experience. Opening at the DeCordova Museum on August 30, “DRAWN TO DETAIL” offers drawings by 26 artists whose work tends to the obsessive, repetitive, laborious, and intricate. The likes of Julie Mehretu, Tom Friedman, Jacob El Hanani, and Louise Marshall mix it up between the forest and the trees, sometimes losing the larger context in the act of mark making, sometimes finding order in what could be taken for total chaos. At the same time at the DeCordova, the new drawings of “LAYLAH ALI: NOTES/DRAWINGS/UNTITLED AFFLICTIONS” introduce language into Ali’s rich œuvre, as she organizes snippets of text from various sources into brief vignettes that interact with her characteristically ambiguous characters.

A hand-crafted camera mounted on a kite and a homemade stereo-panoramic camera moving at a constant speed to produce a three-dimensional image are the unusual means by which Argentine-born photographer Esteban Pastorino Díaz creates his art. “SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES: ESTEBAN PASTORINO DÍAZ” opens at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts August 29. A former student of mechanical engineering, Pastorino designs and builds each of his cameras himself, and he produces images that “see” things from a unique point of view, whether that’s the kite’s-eye perspective, or the turning of real places and people into strangely doll-like versions of themselves, or light-box presentations that, when viewed with 3-D glasses, give the disorienting illusion of movement.

Also of note: Boston Sculptors Gallery kicks off September with “THERE: MAGGIE STARK,” a mixed-media installation exploring paradoxes of time and space, and “CHRISTOPHER FROST,” with work by an artist known for his playful, transformative way with common objects. And MIT’s List Visual Arts Center opens its annual “STUDENT LOAN ART PROGRAM EXHIBITION AND LOTTERY” on September 2, with some 400 framed prints and photographs by Sarah Sze, Dana Schutz, Do-Ho-Suh and many others. Although you have to be a MIT student to borrow the work, the exhibit is open to the public.
_Randi Hopkins

“DRAWN TO DETAIL” and “LAYLAH ALI” @ DeCordova Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd, Lincoln | August 30–January 4 | 781.259.8355 | “SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES: ESTEBAN PASTORINO DÍAZ” @ School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 230 the Fenway, Boston | August 29–October 13 | 617.369.3718 | “THERE: MAGGIE STARK” and “CHRISTOPHER FROST” @ Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave, Boston | September 3–October 5 | 617.482.7781 | “STUDENT LOAN ART PROGRAM EXHIBITION AND LOTTERY” @ List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St, Cambridge | September 2-14 | 617.253.4400

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