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Yael Bartana’s “Kings of the Hill” at PS1 documents a ritual of motorized play in the coastal hills outside Tel Aviv. In it, dozens of men in 4WDs navigate up and down steep and barren slopes of rock and sand near the sea, their efforts appearing both pointless and menacing. No greenery is present on the hills, and it is not hard to read the repeated ascensions (and numerous failed ascents) as brief moments in a territorial battle that has long since destroyed the disputed terrain.

Julian Pozzi’s ink and watercolor drawings at Jeff Bailey feature blocky grids that are initially based on playground equipment and swimming pools, but grow in a semi-organic ways to form mutant structures whose functions appear as playful as they are indecipherable.

Leon Steele’s “Farmland Skies” at In Camera takes perilously cliché materials (horses, rural landscapes, “majestic” skyscapes) and turns them into something richly new. Closeups of the backs and shoulders of horses serve as an abstract horizon line that frames and destabilizes the sky scenes above them. Equine imagery features in a surprising number of shows in Chelsea at the moment, but this is the only one to really make it work.

The “Seriously Animated” video series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art finishes with Hirsch Perlman’s “Two More Affect Studies,” a pair of motion meditations on the open road. While one stop-motion journey down a twisty mountain road comes up a bit dry, the other, a multi-planed desert scene with a pair of trains set to Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” is a transfixing mix of movement, dislocation, and gently shifting horizon line.

- Ed Osborn [Tuesday, November 11th, 2003]

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