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"Sugar Mountain" | New York Times
April 26, 1996
By Roberta Smith

Press Enlarged Image for "Sugar Mountain" | New York Times

The Holiday Inn Hotel, Laserprint on archival newsprint, four pages 6 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches each, 1995

This good-looking but slightly too elliptical show, organized by Paul Ha and Andrea Scott, mines a vein in current art that is hard to miss: the preoccupation with adolescence and its accompanying pains and pleasures. It seems to stress art about youth made by the young, which means that Larry Clark is, thankfully, absent and only early work by the photographer Nan Goldin is included, most notably a self-portrait in which she is alone and bit bedraggled in a London hotel room. Especially noteworthy is Michel Black’s 18-minute-film “Skater Dater,” of 1995, a sweet, beautifully choreographed coming-of-age story enacted mostly on skateboards in the streets of a Southern California housing development. Also good are Richard Phillip’s lusciously painted “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” which shows a pensive blond girl framed in wisps of cigarette smoke, and, next to it, Chris Moore’s vibrant “Gina,” a dramatic faux fashion spread filled by a bright young face and a lilac pom-pon.

John Currin’s painting of a complacent blond teenage who looks a little like a Breck Girl; Kevin Sullivan’s scaled-up painting of a soiled cover of Spin magazine, and Robert Beck’s cryptic crime story, “The Holiday Inn Hotel,’ which combines text and appropriated images, explore different forms of youthful alienation. Signs of promise: the fictional photographs of Dana Hoey and Jenny Gage, despite debts, respectively, to Jeff Wall and Ms. Goldin. Documentary photographs of punk-rock bands and their slamming fans by Glen E. Friedman and images of various rock singers and their cars by Cynthia Connelly seem intended to remind us that high culture and youth culture are close enough to touch each other, but mostly they dilute the proceedings, as does the curators’ inclusion of a vitrine of skateboards, smoking regalia and CD’s.

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