In October 2017 I undertook a two-week research trip to L.A., with the aim of exploring the diverse array of art spaces (focused on nonprofits and those that support artistic production), the artists and the artist-led culture of the city.
Back in Los Angeles in time to catch ‘Beethoven Was a Lesbian: A Tribute to Pauline Oliveros at One Archives for performances, meditations, Deep Listening, screenings, and discussions in tribute to Oliveros’s extensive work in experimental and electronic music.
At Hauser & Wirth there was the first comprehensive survey of Mike Kelley’s ‘Kandors’ series, which was particularly interesting when it began to conflate two of Kelley’s major ongoing projects, The Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series and the Kandor’s series. The ‘Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)’ serving as a backdrop for the exploits of Kelley’s gang of perverts in ‘Vice Anglais’.
Finishing off a few days of interesting performance-based work with catching the anger, sadness, and depression of Jibz Cameron performing as her alter ego Dynasty Handbag at The Echo.
Extending my road trip out of Los Angeles, via the Katsina collection at the Heard Museum and the Biosphere 2 project, I headed to Marfa, Texas, to see ‘Tierra Sangre Oro’ at Ballroom Marfa – an exhibition envisioned by Rafa Esparza, with collaborations and contributions from artists Carmen Argote, Nao Bustamante, Beatriz Cortez, Timo Fahler, Eamon Ore-Giron, and Star Montana. There is a strong Los Angeles connection here – having seen Rafa Esparza and Timo Fahler’s previous collaboration at Club Pro Los Angeles (Timo also runs BBQ LA), and earlier in this blog I mentioned having visited Carmen Argote’s concurrent exhibition in Los Angeles.
Whilst in Marfa I was fortunate enough to also catch the third of three stops on Akio Suzuki & Aki Onda’s North American tour – having missed them earlier in the week in Los Angeles – staged by Marfa Live Arts.
I had always hoped to visit High Desert Test Sites, and the trip coincided with HDTS 2017, a semi-annual series of roving events that bring together artists responding to Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and the surrounding area of high desert.
This year’s iteration of High Desert Test Sites was built around ‘An Ephemeral History of High Desert Test Sites: 2002-2015’, a month-long exhibition focused on the project’s history. In addition, a pseudo-symposium titled The Palm Talks compliments the exhibition with live music and presentations on the topic of non-communities.
Alongside this, a ‘driving map’ guided us over the weekend to experience new projects and contributions from artists across the landscape, including: Carolyn Pennypacker Rigg’s season-specific ritual ‘Rite of Fall’ in the Trophy Modern Home (kitted out with fully functional furniture made from trophy parts), lunch and breakfast prepared with a swing set and a hole in the ground at the Hole Food Pit Stop, ‘Chill Out’ with Oliver Payne listening to KLF ambient house as the sun set over the desert, and a ‘Table Reading’ by Neil Doshi at Andy’s Gamma Gulch Site – where I finally got my vehicle stuck in the sand.
Started the day meeting Carmen Argote at her solo exhibition ‘Pyramids’ at Panel Los Angeles – the installation uses poor materials, ripped cardboard, coffee grounds, pine needles, to reflect upon economic mobility, labor, and the potential of sculpture as a site of production. Panel is a new space for contemporary art with a focus on process, production, and an emphasis on newly commissioned work, and whilst still quite new on the scene, appeared to be offering something quite different to what is already provided.
I decided to check out a few more PST: LA/LA exhibitions, including the comprehensive retrospective of Laura Aguilar’s photographic and video work, in ‘Show and Tell’ at Vincent Price Art Museum.
Started the day with a studio visit with Parker Ito (represented by Chateau Shatto) seeing new work in progress, chatting about his ‘Capitol Records Shit Toots’ photobook, and planning a collaboration in the UK for late 2018.
Followed this up with a whistlestop tour of commercial spaces in and around Culver City, with a few notable exhibitions including: Amalia Pica at Marc Foxx , Neil Raitt at Anat Ebgi, and great sci-fi / cyborg work by Ad Minolti at Cherry and Martin.
Finished the day visiting Reserve Ames and meeting Ben Echeverria who runs the gallery. Located in a residential area in a large wooden shed out the back of a house, the space is one of many spaces in L.A. that utilise domestic spaces, houses, sheds, garages and even the outdoor yard as a location from which to present a programme. A history that is noted in Jonathan Griffin’s ‘Spaces-The Live/Work Gallery’ on Art Agenda.