‘A portal to an un-discovered universe’

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Albuquerque's "Stellar Mapping II" consists of a 6-foot square filled with crushed glass spread on the floor on which 28 glass globes, half filled with water and honey, are set.

Fans of modern art will have until the end of the month to see the latest work by Malibu’s Lita Albuquerque, a woman famed internationally as an installation and environmental artist and honored with numerous awards and exhibitions. The latest is a small installation at the Barnsdall Art Park gallery, a place that has gained renown for its exhibitions of cutting edge contemporary art. Albuquerque’s work is one in a 10-artist show, “BioBallistic,” that will either set viewers’ teeth on edge or make them think. Maybe both.

Set among controversial works (among them artist Sarah Perry’s “Son of the Moon,” a stone egg in a nest; “Constellation,” Lynn Aldrich’s wall of lampshades, and Tony Bedant’s “Within,” constructed of found and fabricated tin), Albuquerque’s four installations are equally enigmatic. “Stellar Mapping II” consists of a 6-foot square of crushed glass spread on the gallery floor on which 28 glass globes, half filled with clear water and honey, are set. Accompanying it is “Particle Notations,” a wall installation including plaques of enigmatic writing (pen embellum on parchment), “As Above, So Blow,” a large water-filled glass globe, and “Five Milligrams of Memory,” a row of nine half-liter chemistry bottles filled with water, honey and pigment.

Many of Albuquerque’s works in the past have been controversial as well, high among them “Sol Star,” a 1996 installation in the desert near the Great Pyramid. It was a huge projection of a celestial map on the desert near the Egyptian pyramids (the stars were 10-foot circles of blue pigment). Some viewers thought they could see a Star of David in the design, and claimed she was an Israeli spy; nevertheless, the work won the sixth Cairo Biennial before the desert winds blew it all away.

Other, perhaps less challenging works, include “Golden State” (with architect Michael De Jarnett), the largest public art installation in California, located on a two block-long plaza near the state capitol. Last year, she completed a star-map, sculpture and waterfall (with architect Robert Kramer) for the entrance patio of the new Catholic cathedral downtown.

So what does the new work “mean?” Albuquerque says it is based on water, which she believes is distributed throughout space. And she is exploring the concept that all particles, including water, have a consciousness and carry memory contained in a mathematical language. Light becomes the source, revealing this consciousness in a refractive display of waves.

LeRad Nilles, curator of Bioballistic, explains that the artists in the current show merge ideas from science, mathematics and metaphysics to provide a “fantastic voyage” through “a portal to an undiscovered universe within ourselves.”

Be that as it may, there is little question that Albuquerque’s latest work will make one think; or at least wonder.

BioBallistic is open from noon until 5 p.m., Friday – Sunday through Dec. 31, at the Barnsdall Art Park at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard (near Vermont). Admission: General $5; Seniors and students $3, children under 12, with adult, free. More information can be obtained by calling 323.644.6269.