Opening Reception: Friday, July 15, 6-8PM
UTA Artist Space is pleased to announce a new exhibition of video and audio work from the collection of Barbara Balkin Cottle & Robert Cottle. Featuring work by Bruce Nauman, Cory Arcangel, William E. Jones, Douglas Gordon & Oscar Tuazon, High Anxiety brings together iconic works, many being shown in Los Angeles for the first time. Says writer Carlos Valladares, “Amidst the barrage of images—degraded, censored, banal, outrageous—that assault us every day, Barbara and UTA Artist Space have crafted a zone to contemplate the commotion. You cannot relax. We go through our present lives seeking to control the digital cacophony; here, in a controlled environment, chaos runs rampant. It is our inescapable, messy reality.”
“Let’s build a city that lives like a virus,” growls a deep-throated man’s voice on the left channel. “Let the virus come back…Step back for a moment and survey what we have from afar.” On the right channel, another man, softer, brighter, is on a similar wild reverie: “I’m a prick dancing on ice, a warm cock on ice, a pointless hard-on, a silver beacon.” Their voices build, overlap, interrupt, complete the other’s thoughts like the Velvet Underground’s “The Murder Mystery.” Here, clarity is sidestepped; you lose track of what is being said and float on the juxtaposition of garbled meanings, English so coiled you start to question it, as when you hear the phrase “frozen tundras” so many times it starts to lose all logic. You also listen closer, hoping you can find something to control in this webbed density. You cannot. You give yourself up to a vast, unsettling, uncategorizable poetry of doom. But poetry, nonetheless.
The piece is called My flesh to your bare bones (2010). The deep voice is Vito Acconci’s, reciting a poem about Antarctica. The soft voice is the sculptor Oscar Tuazon’s, responding to Vito’s stream-of-consciousness barrenness. Barbara Balkin Cottle and Robert Cottle are the collectors of this piece who own some of the most cutting-edge, provocative video work of the late 20th century. In posthumous tribute to Robert (known as “Cottle”), Barbara has now curated six works from the Cottle Collection to be shown at UTA Artist Space in a show entitled “High Anxiety.” It’s the first time most of these videos have been shown in Los Angeles. “High Anxiety” was an oft-used phrase of Cottle’s—and, now in 2022, an all-too-apt one, as this landmark video collection opens during the most extremely angst-riddled and nerve-racking time in recent U.S. history.