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In the Galleries - Ghosts Before Breakfast CLOSES August 18 at White Flag Projects 

Ghosts Before Breakfast through August 18 at White Flag Projects

Ghosts Before Breakfast through August 18 at White Flag Projects

This group show of work by seven contemporary artists, titled after a 1928 experimental film by Hans Richter, sets out to "collect small gestures." Thin black strings hooked onto nails form the empty rectangular outlines of select paintings from Manet's oeuvre; large sheets of water-warped foamboard stand pillar-like, offering no more than their spray-painted gloss white sheen; a sheet of blank photo paper, rumpled and adhered to glass, is encased in a white frame. Clanking sounds emanate from the gallery's most distant alcove, where Chris Burden's 1984 film "Beam Drop" plays — the black-and-white footage portraying massive steel I-beams lifted by cranes and dropped into a pit of wet cement. Small gestures make big, abrasive sounds. Scott Lyall's twin sheets of ethereally pale, inkjet-hued vinyl, affixed directly to the wall, look like faux portals. The works' spectral hues are the product of complex computer algorithms, their apparent simplicity a calculated illusion. Adam McEwen's two circular works — composed of laser-etched graphite mounted onto aluminum — depict the texture of shipping-grade particle board, their trompe l'oeil effect underscored by their nod to the Renaissance tondo form. In of all these emptied works, stripped of their native contexts, a material obsessiveness prevails — a heightened sense of ingredients and processes, be they physical or conceptual. Materials even meticulously mimic other materials, in their absence. "Small gestures," then, is an understatement — nothing here feels simple or intimate. Through August 18 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-3442 or www.whiteflagprojects.org. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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