Fevered Fantasia

In her first American survey, Karen Kilimnik heats up MoCA

Kilimnik's bone-jarring installation features shooting targets, chicken wire, a lunchbox, a jump rope, notebooks, pencils, and a mechanical toy dog. It also includes an enlarged news article about the attack and a soundtrack with the Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays," which popularized the crime. This 1991 work eerily presages the 1999 Columbine shooting and the Virginia Tech massacre this past April.

Some of her works delve into glamour's seamy underbelly. One glittery drawing depicts Kate Moss in her scanties while contemplating murder, and a video captures a gaggle of supermodels cutting up during a photo shoot.

Drugs is yet another early scatter piece in which the artist has piled pills, a syringe, a spoon, a lighter, and suspicious white powder with a mirror and razor on the museum floor. It evokes the orgy of hedonistic excess that knocked bimbos off the catwalk during the supermodel heyday, and still speaks to the revolving-door visits to rehab for which imploding tartlets Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan have recently earned headlines.

Kilimnik's I Don't Like Mondays takes aim at school violence
Kilimnik's I Don't Like Mondays takes aim at school violence

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Through November 12. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St, North Miami; 305-893-6211, www.mocanomi.org.

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Arguably one of the most poignant drawings here is Lisa Steinberg (could have been a model), from 1988. The crayon-and-pastel-on-paper piece is tucked into a room painted powder blue and brimming with evidence of Kilimnik's love affair with the ballet.

Lisa Steinberg was a beautiful six-year-old child who had been beaten until nearly dead by her coked-up adoptive father, attorney Joel Steinberg, who left the unconscious child with his battered wife and then disappeared for a night on the town. When the case broke in New York in 1987, the girl became the face of child abuse in America. At Steinberg's trial, following Lisa's death, a doctor who had examined the injured girl testified the defendant commented, " I guess she won't be an Olympic athlete if she survives."

It's not surprising to see Kilimnik place the image of Lisa diagonally across from The bluebird in the folly, a beguiling video featuring a lovely gazebo inside which tiny fairylike ballerinas dance in an enchanted forest. It makes perfect sense that Kilimnik, whose inner child remains forever alive, would honor a prematurely lost soul in such a way.

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