EMBASSY AFTER DARK

 

J Patrick Walsh 3 and Natalie Labriola

5028 York Ave, Los Angeles CA

July 12 - August 18, 2012

 

“Embassy After Dark,” a show of works by J Patrick Walsh 3 and Natalie Labriola, centers around a “burn book” from the American Embassy in Belgrade, made between the years of 1989-1991.  The artists procured the files from an anonymous former employee of the Tourist Visa Consulate of the US Embassy in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia.  

 

The book contains government-issued ID photographs of hopeful Yugoslavs attempting to attain a Tourist Visa to visit the United States, with notes and jokes scrawled over the photographs, their applications, and official government notices.   It’s contents reveal a psychological space of dark humor, frustration, and alienation.  The screening process, which gives rise to fictional reasons for travel visas, becomes partially visible through these notes.  The collection is a shard of bleak humor amidst the social and political upheaval during the collapse of the Soviet Union.   In this book of notes, we see the American Embassy through the lens of its disgruntled employees, as transparent scam-artists offer bribes, plea bargains, and lists of cow names.  

 

Walsh 3 and Labriola have assembled four copies of the book, recreated in its entirety.  The act of forgery that is revealed in these stories is echoed in the precise replications of the book itself.  The works in the show extend beyond the cubicle and onto the gallery walls, the books providing a context with which to view the discreet works.