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"Elemental Forces" 

When: Feb. 23-March 30 2013
Price: free

Suzy Poling's characterization of her work as "archaic futurism" is a tricky one. Her photography, painting, video, and sculpture-based installations on view in Elemental Forces at Krowswork rather seem to exude an altogether alien mysticism, not belonging to this world at all, past or present. The artist prominently features the earth, superimposing abstract painting upon photos of impressive geological terrain to give the scenes a fragmented, other-planetary feel. In two videos, the artist explores the earth by way of strange rituals. In one, she bathes in a shimmering body of water, sporting a peculiar headdress. In the other, she covers herself in sundry forms of splattered mud and inky pigment drippings. But these videos also read as an exploration of the ritualistic qualities of the film- and video-capture process itself, a point of fascination that, if now latent in the mainstream, was certainly explicit in the early days of the moving image. Perhaps that points to the archaic that Poling is channeling here. Elemental Forces runs through March 30 at Krowswork (480 23rd St., Oakland). 510-229-7035 or

— Alex Bigman


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