Art Reviews : 'Sincerity' Focuses on Beauty, but Not Without Irony November 24, 1994|SUSAN KANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES  p. F20

 Stretching It: "Minus Equals Plus," Patrizia Giambi's installation at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, is laconic, elegant and probably about something. What that is, however, remains  muddled.

Each piece in the show is composed of a single long, thick rubber band, stretched between a pair of steel clamps affixed to the gallery wall or floor. Sometimes the rubber band is aligned along the horizontal axis, sometimes the vertical. Each band is a different, primary color and stamped repeatedly with one word: space , time , male , female , law or beauty .

 The work plays out a familiar Minimalist idiom: These are simple, geometric structures presented in serial form. The words themselves form additional serial subsets, and Giambi selects them very deliberately.

Each relates to a category of measure, a code of conduct, a mode of classification or a system of logic. As Minimalism itself enshrines a rigorous and exclusionary logic, Giambi seems poised to offer some kind of critique.

Yet none is forthcoming. Giambi could have stretched the rubber bands to an unendurable point of tautness, as if to suggest that a breaking point was inevitable. But the rubber bands are slack--much like the work.

One piece in the show is different from the others. It consists of nine bands hanging from metal hooks, each band marked to resemble a tape measure, extended to 41 inches. The piece pivots on the understanding that though ostensibly identical, each band could be stretched to a different length while continuing to assert its identity with the others.

Here, Giambi manages to suggest the arbitrary, eminently unstable nature of truth. Her take on elasticity recalls a well-known work by Robert Morris, but this doesn't detract from its strength. It merely offers a well-tested precedent for Giambi's inquiry into Minimalism.

* Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 453-7535, through Dec. 3. Closed Sundays and Mondays.