HA-M-LET—created and performed by Los Angeles-based theater artist Peter Mark—is a “multi-lingual, multimedia performance housed within a projection cube. Sourcing material from Shakespeare’s play, pop internet culture, home videos, and 3D animation, the projected image becomes landscape, body, narrative, and biography—shifting at a rate which pays homage to Hamlet’s own velocity of thought.”*
Presented by CalArts Center for New Performance and Hauser & Wirth, Mark will perform HA-M-LET this week at the gallery’s Arts District location.
When I went to graduate school in the 1960s… I was faced with a dilemma… I was surrounded by ideas about art that I couldn’t identify with. I couldn’t identify with the practice of trying to decide what to put in a painting using a kind of intuition. Or looking at a painting as a vehicle for self-expression. It’s not that I looked down on that, or that I thought it was such a bad idea. It’s just that I wasn’t working in a manner that required that kind of behavior… Then I ran into a person who told me about a couple of books, which I bought and read. One was by the art historian Henri Focillon [1881–1943], called The Life of Forms in Art . The other was a big picture book on Tantric Buddhist art by Ajit Mookerjee [1915–1990]. In those books I began to find things that made sense to me in terms of art production.
[Focillon] had a Platonic perspective, that form was synonymous with number, with mathematics, with structure. And he said that form had a life of its own, had its own reciprocal fitness, had its own autonomous exigency..
This sounds like the tenets of high modernism. I don’t think it followed those tenets in talking about some kind of tautology or self-referential or self-reflexive apparatus. I saw it as a general critique of expressionism, which was central to my problem. I didn’t feel connected with the objects I was making, because when I made them, I wasn’t convinced that there was any connection between my motive to make something and the thing that I made. It just seemed arbitrary to me. I would see painters laboring in front of a painting, trying to decide whether a corner should be red or blue. To me it didn’t make any difference. It could be red or blue, you know? How can they feel good about a judgment that they make? On what basis do they establish this connection? And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out.
Focillon gave me the idea that you’re ultimately not the author of the object. You’re more like a vehicle of this realization without an author. With Tantric art I saw visual representation of the same idea. — Charles Gaines*
“Charles Gaines, January 31, 1995,” in ArtCenter Talks: Graduate Seminar, The First Decade1986–1995, edited by Stan Douglas (New York: David Zwirner Books / Pasadena, CA: ArtCenterGraduate Press, 2016), 172–197.
In a tribute to Jack Whitten, a group of his friends and colleagues, artists and curators—including Candida Alvarez, Jose Luis Blondet, Joshua Chambers Letson, Erin Christovale, Harry Dodge, Naima Keith, DianaNawi, Betye Saar, Gary Simmons, Lily Blue Simmons, Bennett Simpson, and Alphaeus Taylor—will read from NOTES FROM THE WOODSHED, the just-published collection of Whitten’s writing.
JACK WHITTEN—NOTES FROM THE WOODSHEDReading and Launch
Organized by Celia Forner, Hauser & Wirth presents the Portable Art Project in Los Angeles, an exhibition of wearable objects commissioned from a range of artists, including Louise Bourgeois, John Baldessari, Phyllida Barlow, Stefan Brüggemann, Subodh Gupta, MaryHeilmann, Andy Hope 1930, Cristina Iglesias, Matthew Day Jackson, Bharti Kher, Nate Lowman, Paul McCarthy, Caro Niederer, Michele Oka Doner, Pipilotti Rist.
PORTABLE ART, through August 12.
HAUSER & WIRTH LOS ANGELES, 901 East 3rd Street, downtown Los Angeles.