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"Liminality: Art on the Threshold" 

Wednesday, Apr 11 2007
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The Palace of Fine Arts/Exploratorium is a challenging but fun venue for an installation artist. A cavernous hangar with steel trusses and concrete floor, it is filled with ingenious exhibits about science, art, and perception. Many are marvelous works of art themselves. How does an artist compete with this rich environment, or even make a dent? In this show, where five works were "hidden in plain sight," only one artist came out ahead. Paul Andrew Hayes' The Thing About Accumulation addressed both the science and the scale of the place. He strung 5,500 crumpled pieces of white paper on dozens of thin steel wires to form an 18'-by-18' suspended cube (with a lower corner "cut out" and offset). Porous and light, it rustles and moves in the ambient air. Sayed Alavi's computer-controlled array of electric bulbs in simple sockets is less compelling than adjacent displays. Alex Clausen's assemblage of found objects lashed to a second-story balcony and Erica Gangsei's Retrofit, crocheted spider-webs on ceiling-high trusses, were almost imperceptible in the visual din. Lead Pencil Studio contributed a pseudo diorama, In Between. A meditation on archaeology and "breaking ground," it seemed contrived and out of step with the liveliness of the Exploratorium. In a clean "art" space, it would read differently. Young viewers approaching the glass walls and barren slope of dirt lit by an arch of fluorescent tubes waited for the hamsters to emerge. —L.F.

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Lea Feinstein

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