In January 2000, when I opened the doors of the gallery for the first time, the work that was being highlighted by the most prominent galleries in Los Angeles reflected the discourse of an astoundingly narrow cultural group. I felt this was starkly at odds with the incredibly rich and culturally layered reality that I experienced here. It seemed to be a strangely inaccurate representation of the city’s vibrant art community and a missed opportunity to bring attention to the wide range of powerful voices from the different cultural contexts Los Angeles had to offer. As a result, the gallery’s main goal at that time was not to find the best or most successful artists, because I didn’t trust the parameters according to which those categories were defined. Rather, the goal was to invite artists from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to bring their practices and viewpoints to the gallery. The hope was that this would lead not only to a much richer and more complex cultural experience, but that this approach would disturb the ingrained hierarchies prevalent in the Los Angeles art world and beyond. What has remained at the heart of the gallery until today is this need to question the metrics by which artists are valuated and to challenge the hierarchies we bring to art and to most other areas of cultural life.
We acknowledge that we have a lot of work still to do, that in fact this work will never be finished. This year, we invite you to celebrate what the gallery has accomplished so far. — Susanne Vielmetter
Vielmetter Los Angeles celebrates twenty years with the first iteration of a remarkable group show, up through the end of the month.
The exhibition includes works by Laura Aguilar, Nick Aguayo, Edgar Arceneaux, Math Bass, Whitney Bedford, Andrea Bowers, Sarah Cain, Patty Chang, Kim Dingle, Sean Duffy, Genevieve Gaignard, Liz Glynn, Karl Haendel, Stanya Kahn, Hayv Kahraman, Raffi Kalenderian, Mary Kelly, Dave McKenzie, Rodney McMillian, Shana Lutker, Wangechi Mutu, Ruben Ochoa, Pope.L, Deborah Roberts, Steve Roden, Arlene Shechet, John Sonsini, Amy Sillman, Stephanie Schneider, Monique Van Genderen, Tam Van Tran, Esther PearlWatson, and Patrick Wilson.
The most interesting thing for me now is to make sure that the planet is going in the right direction. I keep the words sky, water, earth, fire in my mind. Those are the elements, and that’s what my work has come to be about. That’s what I’m about… When I think about my painting and the political and the planet, it’s about the hope that it’s not too late and that people can still get together and in whatever small way make a difference that adds up. As far as physical strength and ability goes, I’m very weak, of course, because of my age, but I still can paint, I can still draw. And so that’s my contribution…
I enjoy life, and I feel I’ve been different people. I was a different person, for example, when I did these very sexy drawings and paintings of my body, looking at my body. [Laughs] It’s the truth. Sex was all I could think about…
When I used to go to my house in Taos, New Mexico, and go to watch tribal dances, they wouldn’t ask me if I was Indian; they would say, “What tribe are you?” I would say, “Venezuelan.’”And they’d say, “I’ve never heard of that one!”… Within myself, I felt that I was Indian. I felt that very much when I went to the dances, because the tribes had a complete attitude towards the earth, that it was alive. I remember asking why the dances in the winter were different from the summer dances. A lot of stomping went on in the summer. I asked a man about this once, and he said, “Because the earth is asleep, of course, in winter.” Instead of stomping, they drag the foot, so as not to wake the earth. It’s an attitude toward the planet as a living thing. — LuchitaHurtado*
A beautiful new exhibition of artists’ books is up now at the Getty Center.
The exhibition includes books by Nobuyoshi Araki, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Tauba Auerbach, Raffaele de Bernardi, Sandow Birk, AndreaBowers, Chris Burden, Jan Činčera, Johanna Drucker, Dave Eggers, Felipe Ehrenberg, Olafur Eliasson, Timothy C. Ely, BarbaraFahrner, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Jennifer A. González, Katharina Grosse, Robert Heinecken, Leandro Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, DanielE. Kelm, AnselmKiefer, Monika Kulicka, Sol LeWitt, Russell Maret, Didier Mutel, Katherine Ng, Clemente Padín, Felicia Rice, DieterRoth, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Russell, Barbara T. Smith, Keith A. Smith, Buzz Spector, Beth Thielen, Gustavo Vazquez, Cecilia Vicuña, Ines vonKetelhodt, ZacharyJames Watkins, William Wegman, and Tian Wei.
ARTISTS AND THEIR BOOKS–BOOKS AND THEIR ARTISTS, through October 28.
GETTY CENTER—RESEARCH INSTITUTE, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles.
THE ARCADES: CONTEMPORARY ART AND WALTER BENJAMIN, a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum, “brings together contemporary art works inspired, consciously and unconsciously, by Walter Benjamin, one of the twentieth century’s most original and enigmatic thinkers. Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is an undergraduate art-history staple, but true Benjaminiacs consider his massive, unfinished Arcades Project to be the writer’s magnum opus. What began as a short essay on the glass-ceilinged Paris Arcades of the mid-nineteenth century (the modern shopping mall’s ancestor) spiralled out into a warren of notes, citations, and commentaries forming a restless survey of modernity.”*
Benjamin’s Arcades Project—the notes for which he left with Georges Bataille before killing himself on the Pyrenees in 1940 after leaving Nazi-occupied France—was made up of thirty-six folders on such subjects as “Fashion,” “Mirrors,” “Panorama,” “Dream City and Dream House,” and “Flâneur,” (a term Benjamin popularized). For THE ARCADES exhibition, curator Jens Hoffman (assisted by Shira Backer) has brought together works by Walead Beshty, Andrea Bowers, Chris Burden, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Andreas Gursky, Pierre Huyghe, Mike Kelley, Collier Schorr, Cindy Sherman, Taryn Simon, and James Welling.
THE ARCADES: CONTEMPORARY ART AND WALTER BENJAMIN, through August 6.
THE JEWISH MUSEUM, 1109 Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street, New York City.
A view of The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, at the Jewish Museum. Artwork, all by Adam Pendleton: Black Dada Reader (wall work #1), 2016; what is…?/Chagall (study), 2017; Dada Dancers (study), 2016.
Photograph by Will Ragozzino–Social Shutterbug