In MINOR MATTER—part two of her Blue, Red, and White trilogy that began with Sorrow Swag—dancer-choreographer Ligia Lewis and her dancers Jonathan Gonzalez and Tiran Willemse interrogate the color red as a medium between love and rage.
“[With this piece] I knew that I was working specifically with a very strong relationship to space, so I wanted to animate the periphery as much as possible. I knew that I was trying to interrogate a certain type of body and a certain type of embodiment. I was also trying to play with duration, or at least with creating a relationship to time that had an articulation of memory, and the present, and a sort of posturing towards the future… happening simultaneously…
“I have a very contentious relationship with abstraction, at least in early notions of abstraction being ‘pure’ or unadulterated form, so I go in knowing that I’m not entirely going to get that, or maybe not entirely interested in it, but it’s an interesting place to start for me…
“I was thinking about marks and traces in space, which is me thinking through what it means to be a marked body on stage. How do you leave a mark or a trace?” — Ligia Lewis interview with Emily Gastineau
Returning to L.A. after a preview at Human Resources—see Evan Moffitt’s review—MINOR MATTER is presented as part of this month’s Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA.
Friday and Saturday, January 12 and 13, at 8 pm.
Sunday, January 14, at 6 pm.
Redcat, 631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.
See Hannah Black on Lewis.
See Martha Kirszenbaum, interview with Ligia Lewis, Kaleidoscope 29 (Spring 2017).
PARISLA 15—SPRING 2017—MUSIC
On the cover Ash B., 2016 © Wolfgang Tillmans
Comes with a flexi disc by D.A. Spunt
I don’t write music. We never did. Sonic Youth never did. Our writing is sitting around and playing, and reforming it. — Kim Gordon
In America we have this history where we forgive the oppressor and vilify the outsider. — Taylor Mac
I mean, I see the life politic, the life that we live all together as people, is the sum of what people throw into their world. — Wolfgang Tillmans
The last twelve months have seen Wolfgang Tillmans’ return to music after a nearly thirty-year absence, Taylor Mac’s one-time-only 24-hour concert performance, and the first release of Kim Gordon’s music under her own name.
PARISLA 15—an issue devoted to music—brings together conversations with these artists, as well as interviews with Carrie Brownstein (with Kim Gordon), Josh Da Costa and Matt Fishbeck about Solid Rain, Pulitzer Prize-winning Caroline Shaw, art and music entrepreneur Aaron Bandaroff on Know Wave, and Chloé Maratta and Flannery Silva of Odwalla88 (joined by Dean Spunt of No Age).
Issue 15 also features a conversation between LA-based curators Sohrab Mohebbi and Aram Moshayedi, and writer Gaye Theresa Johnson about her first book Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles, essays on Lady Tigra and on Black Sabbath’s final tour by Noah Lyon, Yelli Yelli in her own words, a piece by associate editor Evan Moffitt on Berlin and Bowie, an excerpt from The Standard Book of Color by Andrew Berardini, and a report from Standing Rock by Oscar Tuazon.
2014 was an exciting year for Los Angeles, when the world finally acknowledged the city’s ascendancy as America’s culture capitol. It was a banner year for gentrification, with rising real estate prices forcing residents out of neighborhoods now deemed “hip”, like Highland Park and the L.A. River’s string of warehouses, renamed the “Arts District”–making Los Angeles the least affordable rental market in the country. And in the midst of all this, L.A.’s repertoire of museums, top galleries, nonprofit art institutions, and artist networks continued to grow at a stunning rate.
Here are ten of my favorite events (and places) of the year:
1. Mike Kelley at MOCA
The New York Times called it a “game-changer” for Los Angeles and the international contemporary art world. For countless L.A. artists, though, the work of multimedia master Mike Kelley had been an inspiration for decades, since Kelley’s days as a CalArts wunderkind and later years teaching at Art Center College of Art and Design. Ending its tour at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary from MoMA PS1 and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the show featured over 250 works over all of the Geffen’s 55,000 square feet of exhibition space with videos, room-sized installations, drawings, intimate sculptures, and a large gallery featuring all of Kelley’s transfixing Kandor sculptures. Kelley addressed broken dreams and childhood trauma in every imaginable medium, to truly moving effect.
2. Paramount Ranch Art Fair
Only in L.A. would an international art fair occupy the clapboard storefronts of an abandoned Western saloon town movie set. In late January, several dozen galleries from New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, and other cities around the world set up shop on the dusty wood floors of Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, used by Paramount Studios in the 1930s and ’40s to film Westerns. The atmosphere was palpably relaxed: patrons roamed with beers in hand, participating in a collaborative painting project hosted by Ooga Booga and watching projection-mapped performances by artist duo Animal Charm.
3. The Ace Hotel
Although arguably not an event, the Ace Hotel opened in the historic United Artists building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles in late January, and from the very start became of hub of music and art. The hotel’s Spanish gothic theater has hosted talks with art world luminaries like John Baldessari and Hans Ulrich Obrist, film previews of movies like Inherent Vice, and concerts by big-ticket bands like Coldplay. Patti Smith is slated to perform there next month. Many have credited the Ace for revitalizing South Broadway, which since early January has become home to atelier Acne Studios, Aesop, Tanner Goods, and OAK, among others.
4. Paris Photo
Yet another “only in L.A.” fair, 2014’s Los Angeles edition of Paris Photo, the international fine art photography fair from Paris, was held in the historic New York City backlot of Paramount Studios. Fake brownstones in facsimiles of NYC’s Upper East and West Sides, Greenwich Village, and even Downtown neighborhoods held photographic work from galleries on four continents. Meandering through the streets of the elaborate urban set, one couldn’t help but think of Jean Beaudrillard’s simulacrum. Most ingeniously, Paris Photo’s location embodied the illusion and artifice inherent in the photographic image.
5. Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films at UCLA CAP
It was difficult to choose a favorite event from the packed fall calendar of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, formerly UCLA Live. The same month that featured a performance of Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda’s Superposition also brought together four incredible musicians to live-score never-before-seen short films by Andy Warhol. Soundless and often shot in a fixed position, the films were brilliantly accompanied by Martin Rev of Suicide, Tom Verlaine of Television, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, and Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces.
6. Made in L.A.
Just south of UCLA’s campus, the Hammer Museum hosted its second installment of the ambitious Los Angeles biennial, Made in L.A. The show featured 35 Los Angeles-based artists with “an emphasis on emerging and under-recognized artists” (though as Artforum pointed out, it wasn’t clear who wasn’t recognizing whom). The exhibition occupied every gallery space at the Hammer–unprecedented in the museum’s 20 year history–and was the first major biennial exhibition to feature a majority of women artists. From curator Connie Butler’s collaboration with the ONE Archives to the phenomenal programming–superb films, live courtyard performances, debauched dance parties (co-hosted by KCRW), KCHUNG Radio’s TV studio in the museum lobby, and Piero Golia’s live-sculpting project of George Washington’s nose from Mt. Rushmore–Made in L.A. was not to be missed.
Los Angeles’ wildly popular CicLAvia biking-advocacy group shut down city streets between Echo Park and Boyle Heights this fall, opening scenic routes through downtown Los Angeles to cyclists from all over the county. Legitimizing years of DIY “protest rides” by biker crews like Crank Mob and Critical Mass, CicLAvia lobbied the city to close major streets to automobile traffic for just a few days a year. The event turned out hundreds of street vendors and nonprofit organizations. Most impressively, the city’s financial burden was shouldered entirely by the increase in Metro ridership, from bikers traveling to the starting line by train.
8. FYF Fest
Turning 10 this year, FYF has grown fast…very fast. Started by then-18-year-old L.A. native Sean Carlson in 2004, the festival ditched its R-rated name (Fuck Yeah Fest) several years later, when it moved from the Echoplex to the Los Angeles State Historic Park to accommodate headliners like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture, James Blake, and Devendra Banhart. Since its inception, FYF has been committed to showcasing the best new talent in independent music, and 2014 was no different. Although the two-day fête’s new digs at Exposition Park were a bit chaotic, stellar performances by Chet Faker, Darkside, Flying Lotus, Grimes, Mac Demarco, Jamie xx, and many others–as well as independent vinyl record vendors and nonprofit booths–kept the spirit alive and well.
9. A Club Called Rhonda
This year the formerly “underground” bimonthly dance party A Club Called Rhonda bubbled up and spilled over the edges of LA’s nightlife scene like a boiling tidal wave. For the club night’s circle of self-styled “pansexual partiers, “[Rhonda] is the uncompromising queen: pushing thirsty throngs into the the loud and living throne of Dionysus through this thing we call body music.” In 2014, ACCR’s stage at the Pacific Coast festival in Newport Beach hit the front page of the Los Angeles Times; this month, its founders were featured in a large LA Weekly spread. Rhonda International now offers Caribbean cruises and a hedonistic poolside party at Palm Springs’ Ace Hotel during the Coachella music festival. While the hype might appear to stick mostly for the club’s effective branding and outrageous style, nothing matters more than music: past Rhonda DJs have included house-thumping favorites Basement Jaxx, Todd Edwards, Little Boots, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and Etienne de Crecy, and its New Years Eve 2015 extravaganza at the Standard Hotel will feature electronic duo Hot Chip.
10. Pierre Huyghe at LACMA
Last, but certainly not least, is French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe’s new show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Traveling from the Centre Pompidou, the LACMA installation is arguably the museum’s most ambitious for any contemporary exhibition yet. Shifting video screens, a ceiling Pong game, briny tanks of sea plants and crustaceans, a rink of black ice, a live beehive and dog, and a whirring snow machine are just a few of the show’s surprises–yet far from gimmicky, they combine to form an austerely beautiful whole. This totally immersive experience is not to be missed.
Thank you for reading the Paris, LA blog this year! As 2015 begins, we hope you join us and get lost in familiar places…
‘The Aleph?’ I repeated.
‘Yes, the only place on earth where all places are – seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending’ – Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph”
So begins “Taking Los Angeles Apart: Towards a Postmodern Geography”, the final chapter in Edward W. Soja’s landmark book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. The book uses Borges’ short story about the Aleph, a mystical point of universal convergence, to explain the postmodern paradoxes of Los Angeles and the ultimate difficulty of capturing the city’s postfordist landscape through traditional language.
Soja, an influential political geographer and urban planner at UCLA, has written half a dozen books and countless essays imploring readers to rethink urban spaces and how they function in the political and social sphere. He is the father of “Thirdspace”, in which he says (in a book by the same title) “everything comes together… subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined, the knowable and the unimaginable, the repetitive and the differential, structure and agency, mind and body, consciousness and the unconscious, the disciplined and the transdisciplinary, everyday life and unending history.” Thirdspace is derived from Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre’s notion of heterotopia, and also resemble’s Homi Bahba’s concept of cultural hybridity. Soja’s work employs a trialectics, rather than dialectics, of human geography–emphasizing the equal importance of history, contemporary social relations, and spatial constructs in understanding the urban environments around us.
A Los Angeles resident, Soja has focused much of his work on his home city, veering from the highly critical and sometimes jaded (think Mike Davis in “City of Quartz”) to the the radically optimistic (a-la-Reyner Banham). Over the years he has collaborated with influential thinkers such as David Harvey, Allen J. Scott, and Frederic Jameson.
In Postmodern Geographies, Soja uses Marxist criticism to outline a new form of spatial awareness before focusing his attention on the capitalist (and postfordist) urban example par excellence: Los Angeles. Yet before dismantling the (arguably) already-dismantled city, Soja assembles it: the chapter that precedes “Taking Los Angeles Apart” is aptly titled “It All Comes Together in Los Angeles”. So for Soja, deconstruction is impossible without its opposite, and precedent, activity. In the book, Soja also introduces a number of interesting concepts, which reoccur in some of his later work:
Flexicity: Deindustrialization has been occurring alongside a potent reindustrialization process built not just on high technology.
Cosmopolis: The primacy of globalization. Globalization of culture, labor and capital. “Re-worlds” the city.
Expolis: The city that no longer conveys the traditional qualities of cityness. No cityness about Los Angeles. Growth of the outer city and city edges. More urban life.
Metropolarities: Increasing social inequalities, widening income gaps, new kinds of social polarization and satisfaction that fit uncomfortably within traditional dualisms based on class or race, as well as conventional. New underclass debate.
Carcereal Archipielagos: A fortified city with bulging prisons (City of Quartz) and increased surveillance.
Simcity: A place where simulations of a presumably real world increasingly capture and activate our urban imaginary and infiltrate everything urban life. An electronic generation of hyper reality.
These concepts can help us understand Los Angeles, but also the postfordist landscape that L.A. exported to the rest of America and the world. Soja’s theories are incredibly useful in analyzing–and ultimately, as he would have it, deconstructing–suburban wastelands and unplanned urban sprawl all over the globe. Hopefully a new critical, trialectic spatial ontology, as outlined in Postmodern Geographies, can provide real solutions for urban planners and theorists in our young century. And until then we can marvel at the complexity of urban life, as multifaceted as the limitless Aleph.
Paris, LA’s final day at Art Basel was spent perusing missed booths at the Miami Beach Convention Center’s main fair, and soaking up the last few rays of sunshine on the beach. There was perhaps no better way to bookend a whirlwind tour of art and culture on both sides of Biscayne Bay, stretching into late night and early morning parties.
The Saturday and Sunday crowd was noticeably more casual than at Wednesday’s VIP preview, and a number of works had been replaced with others, having been bought off the wall by collectors earlier in the week. Still, a number of standouts remained. Katharina Fritsch’s bright orange Octopus drew viewers into Matthew Marks’s booth, where a stunning new Ellsworth Kelly aluminum wall sculpture was displayed near polyurethane objects by Fischli/Weiss and a photograph by Thomas Demand. Luhring Augustine displayed one of Rachel Whitread’s Untitled (Stories) sculptures, a cast of the negative space around books on a shelf, which the artist later used in her poetic Vienna Holocaust Memorial.
Some works humorously reappeared, referenced by other artists. Doug Aitken’s Exit (Large), on display in Regen Projects’ booth, appeared in an Eric Fischl painting not far away. Jeff Koons’s Balloon Rabbit appeared suspended upside down from a totem pole in a Jason Rhodes sculpture, on display at David Zwirner’s Basel booth.
Fergus McCaffrey presented a colorful survey of Jack Early works, particularly homoerotic paintings of crotch close-ups on children’s wallpaper, featuring cheerful hand-holding soldiers. A canary yellow phonograph in the center of the gallery played Early’s “Biography in 20 Minutes”, recounting how the artist chose the wallpaper for his first bedroom, further referencing his memories of queer childhood and early budding sexuality. Another arresting survey show was Alison Knowles’s The Boat Book, sponsored by James Fuentes of New York. A series of wooden frames painted and draped in silkscreens, prints, photographs and maritime diagrams, The Boat Book looks like an unfolded large-scale scrapbook, memorializing the artist’s fisherman brother.
Urs Fischer’s Small Rain drew curious crowds to the Sadie Coles HQ, London booth. Nearby Galerie Buchholz’s booth featured a stunning mechanistic sculpture by newcomer Simon Denny, with the familiar Snapchat ghost logo embedded like a 3D phantom in a plastic cube atop a computer server. Artist Sean Raspet also drew crowds to Société gallery’s booth in the Nova section with a wall of plastic tanks filled with a manufactured green polyether substance.
Hauser & Wirth exhibited an impressive new teardrop-shaped sculpture by Mark Bradford. Other fair favorites included Jose Dávila, whose marble and glass slabs precariously pitched outward on colorful red and orange straps were shown at a half dozen galleries from Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Sherrie Levine’s minimalist objects in glass cases were scattered all over the winding Basel booths.
At the booth for famed editions workshop and gallery Gemini G.E.L., new works by Richard Serra, Julie Mehretu, and Sophie Calle were on display. Serra’s monochromatic black Rift series was partly inspired by rubbings of asphalt textures in the Gemini parking lot. Mehretu’s Myriads, Only By Dark, composed of many layers of finely colored inks and intricately textured gestures in black, took over a year to complete. Calle’s work, In Memory of Frank Gehry’s Flowers, featured a collage cut-out of dried flowers given to the artist by her friend, architect Frank Gehry, in honor of her exhibition openings, alongside photographs of the flowers when fresh and a vase of real roses designed by Gehry himself.
Between 250 galleries at Art Basel alone, 10 independent art fairs, and countless events, parties, exhibition openings, performances, and lectures, it was truly impossible to see it all here in Miami this week. Some important lessons were learned: few people come to Miami Beach in early December to view artwork. Perusing the fairs is like speed-dating high culture–there simply isn’t time to stop and study. As the fashion and music industries have teamed up with Art Basel, many more have arrived just for the parties, and parties they find: many of them last late into the night and well past sunrise. And as Art Basel has grown, so has Miami, sprouting gleaming new residential skyscrapers (including the new Zaha Hadid 10 Museum Park) that crowd out the two-lane boulevards and classic white Art Deco hotels.
If you plan on attending Art Basel Miami Beach next year, don’t forget to pack good walking shoes, your favorite hangover cure, and a well-planned schedule. With the right preparation, you won’t find a better way to spend the first days of winter.