Top Five Buddy Cop Films
One could argue that the buddy cop genre has been with us since well before In the Heat of the Night; that it’s among the prototypical literary genres. With the birth of science fiction (Journey to the Center of the Earth) and horror (Dracula), came the original buddy cop tale, “A Study in Scarlet,” which introduced Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick-narrator, Watson, perhaps an old-timey precursor to 21 Jump Street. The invention of these genres does not simply help a viewer categorize a movie or find the right section in Barnes & Noble. They provide a set of rules and constraints in which writers or artists maneuver.
Santi Vernetti has applied the conventions of the buddy cop genre to an art exhibition, curating Top Five Buddy Cop Films, a group show of five collaborations by five pairs of artists, currently on view at Steve Turner Contemporary. Diedrick Brackens and Amanda Ross-Ho assembled two sets of disparate objects onto a pair of textiles reminiscent of dueling street-halker sidewalk displays. Ross-Ho’s arrangement of black articles on beige folders faces off against Brackens’s bottles of red, white, blue, and black fluid and matching studio sneakers.
On the back wall of the gallery, Kerry Tribe and Edgar Bryan created funnier versions of Tribe’s Stroop color word test/Moondust (2015) prints. Joel Kyack and Lisa Anne Auerbach simply photographed their giant dining room table from above—a potent glimpse inside a stranger’s private home. It bears the refuse of a kinetic, artistic collaboration: Sharpies, Microns, weed jars, Metro tap cards, SoCalGas advisories, a note to call the gas company, and a Mexican peso next to some French salt. Auerbach and Kyack adhered the nearly eight foot wide, life-size photograph to the wall with yellow duct tape in the kind of improvisation that would make Tango & Cash proud.
Buddy cop films often carry within them racial and political themes of the moment. One could effectively track the racial anxieties of America through In the Heat of the Night, 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, and Men in Black. An equivalent, underlying theme within Top Five Buddy Cop Films remains hidden to this reviewer. But each project exemplifies an on-the-fly problem solving and wit, which, like any true buddy cop film, alludes to the two divergent personalities who have ended up together, managing to collaborate despite their differences.
“Top Five Buddy Cop Films,” March 23 – April 29, 2017 at Steve Turner, 6830 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90038, steveturner.la.