Los Angeles Times, Calendar Section 6/6/03

By Holly Myers,


From the set of 'The X-Files'

Every successful television show creates, among other things, a memorable visual world. In its nine seasons, "The X-Files" might be said to have created many. John Divola steps into a few of them quite literally in an intriguing new series of photographs taken on the set of the show during its last season (in the spring of 2002).

Now on view at Patricia Faure Gallery, the images reproduce a few familiar icons -- a desk cluttered with FBI files, a bulletin board plastered with photographs of bloodied crime victims -- but they focus largely on more banal spaces, such as an apartment house hallway, a shelving unit in a hospital and a generic Dallas interview room.

Divola's style, in contrast to the gothic visual design that distinguished the show, is generally dry and analytic. Rather than tapping into any particular strain of narrative, he explores the structural foundations of fantasy: the plywood walls that separate the fictional world from the sound stage; the dust that gathers on neglected props; piles of building materials dumped in unoccupied sets.

The revelations he secures from this exploration are not especially surprising. We all know that these things are fake. But they do pose intriguing questions about the nature of our investment in fiction. A notable example is a series of images involving a perfect replica of the "Brady Bunch" set that was apparently incorporated into one episode of "The X-Files." Although a simulacrum of a simulacrum in actuality, the space contained within the set remains eerily, even poignantly, familiar.

Patricia Faure Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., B7, Santa Monica, (310) 449-1479, through June 14. Closed Sunday and Monday.