Jainie Isenstein

TBA:13: Waiting for Isenstein

At the Cooley Gallery: Absence in the form of entertainment

It makes sense that Jamie Isenstein’s “Will Return” at Reed College’s Cooley Gallery is part of PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival. It’s right there in the title of the exhibit, a time marked by absence and anticipation. The most ephemeral of the ephemeral, Limbo, waiting in our theater seats or the remembering as we get up to leave after the applause has died. There is also an element of performance in this exhibit: Something has happened/might happen/happen again. Not a bad concept to center an exhibition upon, especially at one’s alma mater.

I mean, I get it, but I wish I didn’t quite so readily. The show presents a long-standing consideration of what it means to entertain and be entertained, and in that this exhibition has been curated as a survey show, it might also by default represent what happens when a student shows promise, someone sees that potential, accountability and investment to follow.

Magic Fingers/Andrew Kreps Gallery

Magic Fingers/Andrew Kreps Gallery

So, I put myself into a time frame, consider what in the show is early work, and I am prepared to ease up a bit. Yes, “Magic Fingers” (2003) has an appeal, making the frame a small stage for the artist’s disembodied hand (The Addam’s Family’s Thing), or in her absence, a hanging sign that gives us the title of the exhibit. Yet, other pieces like “Inside Out Headshots (Skeleton and Lotion),” which was made the following year, or “Eyehole,” done the year after that, are as straightforward and humorous as one-liner jokes that could be dropped from the set.


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