Alice Könitz is a Los Angeles institution. Or rather, she’s the founder of a Los Angeles institution. Or perhaps she’s none of these: her work–including the small shed museum she built in her backyard–influences precisely because it operates outside of the preexisting institutional framework. Alice Könitz is a rebel.
Born in Essen, Germany, Könitz moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, where she studied at CalArts. Her sculptures of cardboard and other found materials reflect the streets and built environment of Los Angeles. Detritus often coalesces into beautiful objects as if by chance. Other works are methodically constructed, but represent the detritus of our urban architecture–strip malls and 24-hour donut shops.
Könitz is best known as the founder of the Los Angeles Museum of Art, a shed with a corrugated roof she erected in her backyard in 2012 as an interdisciplinary performance and exhibition space. Since its founding, the Los Angeles Museum of Art has been a thriving space for underrepresented or “emerging” artists to show work and collaborate. The museum’s name, satirizing the behemoth institution LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), comments on the intractability of the publicly-funded art world and its distance from the city’s artists and their communities.
Ironically, LAMOA garnered such press that in 2014 it was transported into a well-established museum institution, as an entry in the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial. A facsimile of the LAMOA platform and removable rough-hewn walls was constructed inside the Hammer’s galleries, sans roof, and Könitz won the juried Mohn Award for the work she exhibited there.