Featured Review: Sea of Hot Pink Buffalo

Aug 25, 2011 at 4:00 am

Sea of Hot Pink Buffalo Local artist Nanette Boileau has created a three-part video installation dedicated to that durable symbol of American westward expansion, the American buffalo — and tinted it pink. On one screen a series of still images renders in close-up detail the familiar narrative of buffalo-as-icon. An adjacent video contains footage from an annual roundup at Custer State Park in South Dakota, where herds of bison are branded, vaccinated and readied for market: a jarring and noisy process in which the enormous animals are funneled down canals and squeeze chutes. In a silent counterpoint to the clanking metal, huffing buffalo and shouting wranglers, a text authored by Boileau hangs on the gallery wall, illuminated by a spotlight. The written piece focuses on a single specimen that seems to embody the "female spirit" of Native American myth. In Boileau's evocative reflection, a more complicated symbolic bison emerges — less driven by the muscular brutishness of Manifest Destiny and imbued instead with maternal beauty and dignity. A bison diva, really, one that's worthy of as much hot pink as she can tolerate. The final, most visually arresting video is a diaphanous pink-hued sea of buffalo grazing on a plain. As the creatures move, the horizon line undulates like waves. It's an odd vision — limned in the natural world but at the same time phosphorescently toxic — and one that successfully re-envisions a familiar trope and invests it with fresh and unexpected consequence. Through August 28 at Los Caminos, 2649 Cherokee Street; www.loscaminosart.com. Hours: by appointment.

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