The Fussy Eye: Tiny Reprise

Dead-eyed dolls.

Scheduled to close next summer, Western Bridge has been a treat for venturesome eyes since its 2004 opening with the group show "Possessed." Its fall show, featuring nine artists, is a reprise of the first: "Repossessed." Again the standout, though you have to stoop low to inspect them on the floor, are the 113 rather tattered, mangy, careworn old dolls arrayed in the main gallery. The vintage collection of Zoe Leonard's Mouth open, teeth showing (I) is deployed in diagonals, like Barbie and a band of drum majorettes frozen on the playing field at halftime. Some have their clothes stripped off (as if by some 4-year-old in a shrieking rec-room fit), some have the sadness of forgotten toys (see the day-care castoffs of Toy Story 3), all have the cold shark's eyes Robert Shaw so memorably described in Jaws. The installation is oddly intimidating, these tiny figurines. Visitors are nervous about knocking them over or wandering in their ranks. They're all facing forward as if to greet you, but it's worth treading carefully to the rear, where you can join their field of unseeing vision. Crouch down, with your camera at shoe level, and the dolls will later loom monstrously large on your computer or iPhone screen. There's a macro/micro parallax effect: A store-bought new doll is cute and reassuring in the arms of your preschooler, but this rogue platoon is unsettling, as if they've rebelled from their domestic duties. One says comfort; the group says attack! 

 
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