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In the Galleries - Ghosts Before Breakfast CLOSES August 18 at White Flag Projects

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This group show of work by seven contemporary artists, titled after a 1928 experimental film by Hans Richter, sets out to "collect small gestures." Thin black strings hooked onto nails form the empty rectangular outlines of select paintings from Manet's oeuvre; large sheets of water-warped foamboard stand pillar-like, offering no more than their spray-painted gloss white sheen; a sheet of blank photo paper, rumpled and adhered to glass, is encased in a white frame. Clanking sounds emanate from the gallery's most distant alcove, where Chris Burden's 1984 film "Beam Drop" plays — the black-and-white footage portraying massive steel I-beams lifted by cranes and dropped into a pit of wet cement. Small gestures make big, abrasive sounds. Scott Lyall's twin sheets of ethereally pale, inkjet-hued vinyl, affixed directly to the wall, look like faux portals. The works' spectral hues are the product of complex computer algorithms, their apparent simplicity a calculated illusion. Adam McEwen's two circular works — composed of laser-etched graphite mounted onto aluminum — depict the texture of shipping-grade particle board, their trompe l'oeil effect underscored by their nod to the Renaissance tondo form. In of all these emptied works, stripped of their native contexts, a material obsessiveness prevails — a heightened sense of ingredients and processes, be they physical or conceptual. Materials even meticulously mimic other materials, in their absence. "Small gestures," then, is an understatement — nothing here feels simple or intimate. Through August 18 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-3442 or www.whiteflagprojects.org. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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