If you already think the world of real estate is strange, wait until you see it through David Florimbi’s eyes. The Santa Barbara artist, whose exhibit Imminent Domain is the current featured Bloom Project show at the Contemporary Arts Forum, uses the conventions of landscape painting, advertising graphic design, and realtor symbology to draw attention the absurdity of the whole housing industry.
Though all one show, there are really two parts to Imminent Domain: the ad for the fictional DM&F Realty company and a series of three 40-by-60-inch panels. The ad, which is displayed outside CAF as well as in the February 17 issue of Casa magazine (where it served double duty as performance art and an advertisement for the show), features paintings of actual real estate ads. (One in particular points out how strange it is that we impose geometric boundaries on unruly geography.)
It also shows doctored photos of Florimbi (who himself is the realtor of the show, in a way) as three separate realtor “types”: the stuck-in-the-’70s Bernie Flowers, the Aryan-American Davis Davidson, and the token-ethnic-guy Ernesto Mentira.
The second part goes a little deeper into the subject, with three 40-by-60-inch panels showing a swatch of green land for sale. “Pending” shows the grass with a full-color, realistic cow in the center of the canvas. “Available” shows the grass and a translucent, fading cow. And “Upgraded” shows a white cow-shaped emptiness. Florimbi made all of them by painting the landscape, Xeroxing it, printing the copy on canvas, painting over the copy, and placing actual real estate stickers on top.
The effect is part funny, part sad — as it’s not just the market’s exorbitant prices or realtors’ weird cult of personality that Florimbi is examining and skewering, but the whole process of trading something as arbitrary and unpossessable as land. The show hangs ’til April 7. Visit sbcaf.org.
— Molly Freedenberg