Megan Fisher Staff Writer The Art, Design &
Architecture Museum of UC Santa Barbara is currently featuring four
new exhibitions that are open until mid-May. The museum opened the
shows two weeks ago, displaying artwork donated by art collector
and former UCSB professor Laurence Rickels alongside Andy Warhol
Polaroids and work from the museum’s permanent collection. The
exhibition in the front room, Mind/Map/Los Angeles, is a collection
of work created by artists that collaborated with Prof. Rickels
that reflect Freudianism and concepts of the unconscious,
“un-mourning” and the uncanny. The art visually depicts the history
of the Los Angeles art scene during the 1990’s and critiques the
southern California city as a city of “un-mourning”: a place unable
to accept death. As a professor in German literature and
psychology, Rickels is interested in the failed mourning process of
an individual not fully progressing through grief and trying to
suppress it. Primarily focusing on Los Angeles, Rickels writes that
the city inhabitants appear at ease on the surface; however, this
pathological state masks the misgivings of their lives and fates.
Hollywood horror films, cosmetic surgery and beauty standards are
examples in our culture that illustrate an unwillingness to accept
the natural processes of decay. Portrait shots of Laurence Rickels
hang in the first room of the museum as an introduction into his
peculiar personality. In the series of five photos called Tot’s
Tomb taken by Nancy Barton, he is dressed in costumes with makeup
embodying different personas. These photos provide an insight into
the interests that are reflected in his unique collection of
artwork as a whole. One of the works I found most interesting was
Into Africa, a painting by artist Ali Acerol. In the work there is
an image of Africa combined with an image of Germany. The
background consists of different hand gestures used in deaf sign
language. This makes a reference to a Nazi program that sterilized
the deaf with the goal of creating a superior race with ideas
translated from Rickel’s book Nazi Psychoanalysis: Vol. II. Crypto
Fetishism. The main room of the museum consisted of work that
represented the unconscious and the uncanny. Freud considers the
unconscious to be thoughts, memories and desires that are outside
our conscious awareness. The salon- style arrangement of this
section of the exhibit replicates the unconscious with the
repetition of visually suppressed desires. I loved the wall
arrangement here in particular because the various works were
obscene, funny and abstract. This exhibit was curated by Katrine
Bruun Jorgensen, an art history graduate student from the
University of Copenhagen. The exhibit in the far gallery, Gas
Station DeSign, focuses on the architecture of gas stations in the
1930s to the 1960s in southern California and Santa Barbara.
Photographs and architectural drawings by famous architects such as
Smith and Williams and Kem Weber reflect a redesign of gas station
logos and layouts. 1960s designs draw attention to the gas station
store to make more sales and advertise the logo on every pump. A
companion exhibition will also be on display on the second floor of
Cheadle Hall and in the Arts Library. My favorite exhibit was the
small room to the left of the museum entrance featuring Andy Warhol
Polaroids owned by the AD&A Museum. The photos are of
celebrities, friends of Warhol, random people, things and objects;
they are a visual archive of his inspiration, movement and life.
Warhol took pictures of everything and everyone. Some of the people
he took Polaroids of would later be incorporated into his famous
silk screen prints. The far back room held the final exhibit, Art
on the Table: Food and Drink from the Permanent Collection, which
presents a range of materials that fill basic human needs within
different cultures. Both two dimensional and three dimensional
works draw a comparison between essential eating tools and
materials accessible to various cultures. These include an ancient
Grecian vase, a Persian cup and Native American bowls. The Art,
Design and Architecture Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 12
p.m. – 5 p.m. Gas Station DeSign, Fame and the Mundane, and Art on
the Table will remain open until May 12, with Mind/Map/Los Angeles
closing Mar. 10.  

A version of this article
appeared on page 8 of March 7th, 2013’s print edition of the