3/8: STUDIO VISIT WITH GUILLERMO BERT
Mestizo (Mixed) Feelings For Guillermo’s Bert’s “Encoded Textiles”
By Ofelia Del Corazon
There is something that makes me uneasy about non-natives telling the stories of indigenous people. I have never found the words to defend my discomfort. The struggle seems best described in my body’s responses: it is the stinging shame of men with PhDs in my race, the burn of gueritas in sugar skull makeup; belly flops into Portlandia yellowface laughter. It is the feeling that something has been gobbled up and consumed without my permission.
I am mixed race Chicana who often feels she may be appropriating her own culture. The tension of this duality fuels both my anxiety and enthusiasm around “Encoded Textiles.” The concept and process is both brilliant and fascinating. Bert returns to his country of origin to interview (and film) indigenous Mapuche culture makers. He then selects traditional stories, poems and first person narrative and converts the information into QR codes. Bert hires indigenous craftspeople to hand weave the digital information into gorgeous, large scale, functional QR code tapestries. The high-tech barcodes and traditional design elements blend together seamlessly; the results are startling and magnificent.
Guillermo has been blurring the lines between art and anthropology for years. For the Mapuche Bert functions as curator, historian and cultural ambassador; for U.S. audiences he is a tour guide and eager interpreter. “Encoded Textiles” allows us to experience stunning multimedia portraits of the Mapuche struggle to preserve a history and a way of life.
It is self-evident that those of us entrenched in consumerism have much to gain from learning about a more holistic way of life. But what have the Mapuche to gain? Is it enough that we lend our megaphone to amplify the voices and highlight the struggle of those who haven’t the means to broadcast? And how do we move toward cultural reciprocation?
You can listen to the conversation between Ofelia and Guillero here:
Be sure to watch the trailer for “Coded Stories” documenting the “Encoded Textiles” process here. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL-xkcRzJK8]
You can see “Guillermo Bert: The Bar Code Series” at March 9-May 5 in Lancaster at The Museum of Art And History [http://www.lancastermoah.org/exhibition.php?id=105]
Reception Saturday March 16 4-6pm
Visit Guillermot’s studio at the Brewery Art Walk April 27th and 28th 11 am- 6pm 642 Moulton Ave. #E19
See more of Guillermo’s work here. [http://www.gbert.com]
2/28: STUDIO VISIT WITH ALICE KÖNITZ
Alice Könitz in front of her Los Angeles Museum of Art Project
AS: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
AK: I’m an artist. I grew up in Germany. I studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, and at the California Institute of the Arts. Since my graduation from Cal Arts I have worked primarily in Los Angeles. I make sculptures, films, videos and performances. I recently established a museum called Los Angeles Museum of Art. (LAMOA)
The Los Angeles Museum of Art, shown here with Taft Green’s work entitled, A Knot That is the Name.
AS: Please talk about your Los Angeles Museum of Art Project.
AK: I approached the building of LAMOA, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the same way that I approach my other art projects. It relates to the conventional idea that we have of museums, but it is something that I made with a small budget outside of my studio. It’s miniature version of a museum. It establishes an open dialogue with other artists who end up shaping the meaning and appearance of it. It has the necessary features that define it as a museum, it hosts a collection of small objects and drawings and parts of the collection will be periodically on view. Traveling exhibitions of collections are planned. A board of honorary trustees has yet to be established. We have a regular schedule of exhibitions that are planned until 2014, yet the scale of it and the fact that it’s run by one single person, turns it into something that’s only remotely related.
I raised the funds with a Kickstarter-like institution called USA Projects, I received for the most part small donations from friends and colleagues, and a few donations were contributed by people that I didn’t know personally. I don’t think I would have been able to come up with the funds without this system. It is a very positive experience to know that your project has the support of your community before you even start it. In a way I approached it as a giant sale of handmade products, such as a porcelain logo of the institution, many potato-print canvas tote bags, a few three-dimensional postcards. Currently, LAMOA is at the end of the first exhibition, and I’m still working on some of these ‘thank-you-gifts’.
The Los Angeles Museum of Art, shown here with Taft Green’s work entitled, A Knot That is the Name.
The first exhibition at LAMOA, that was on view until February 25, was a sculpture by Taft Green, entitled, ‘A Knot that is the Name’, that was made specifically for LAMOA. It’s a faceted wall that’s relating to the space of the museum in the golden ratio. The museum itself doesn’t have any walls; it has sliding doors that can be removed. The multiple facets of the sculpture are constructed from versions of dodecahedrons. They are the vehicles of a mosaic depicting a standardized wall that is made from pebbles. The sculpture relates to ideas of movement and that our bodies are roughly structured according to the golden ratio. The distance within an idea of the body and the direct perceptions of the body itself are conflated within the sculpture. I’m very happy about this experience of having this sculpture outside of my studio, I feel like I’m gaining a much deeper understanding of it by passing by it at various times of the day, seeing it as a very spatial structure from different angles throughout the day and observing that it visually turns into a flat pattern when it gets dark.
The next show will be by Stephanie Taylor, opening on the 9th of March.
Installation, The Wall House Mystery, 2012
AS: What inspires you? What do you read, watch, listen to, research?
AK: I find walking, riding my bicycle, and going on vacation trips to be very inspiring. Discovering new places is always exciting for me. I would like to travel to see public sculptures in different countries. I also think it’s good to get bored once in a while. The studio is a great place for me, in part probably because I don’t have Internet access there, and I have to use some creativity to distract myself if I need to. If nothing else helps, sitting around bored in the studio can lead to fantastic results. I tend to read more theoretical texts than novels, which makes me a little sad. What I read influences my thinking and ultimately my work, but the influence is hardly ever direct. I’m influenced by many great cultural icons as well as my social background, things I was impressed by when I was teenager, my parents etc. I’m fascinated by early mechanic special effects in movies, but I watch whatever movie my boyfriend finds on the computer.
WDF, 2011, Image courtesy of the artist
Walter Crystal, 2012, Image courtesy of the artist
Untitled (perfume), Image courtesy of the artist
AS: Please talk a bit about your studio process.. where do your ideas come from, how are they developed, and how do you come to a final product?
AK: The way that I think about my work is in a constant flux. Once I pin it down in verbal language it seems like I don’t want to be stuck there. The complex exchange between visual cognition and language based understanding makes it even more difficult. I notice that writing often makes sense within the verbal sphere, but it relates to the work only peripherally.
Here are some general things about my work: I am interested in representation as well as in creating a physical presence. A lot of my work is in a dialogue with public spaces, the formal language encountered in generic objects, corporate and domestic architecture and irregular placement of objects. I meticulously collect visual information to observe the conditions that I find myself in. A part of my work could be seen as a private, individual typology of a of public formal language. When I work on art I displace this information into a more idiosyncratic area of thought. I create narrative contexts, sometimes entire drafts of novels or plays, sometimes just statements of subtle differences. I often make small cardboard maquettes to visualize my ideas, sometimes I make collages and drawings to clarify relationships, or to mark down the different parts that I’m working with. I like to keep the work process as simple and controllable as possible. I like to work in my studio where I can move things around and look at them in order to understand them spatially. Sometimes I work on smaller things at home, which is more convenient.
Parfümtisch, 2011, Image Courtesy of the Artist
I have only done a few works collaboratively in a narrower sense of the term. I have co-written one text with Stephanie Taylor that manifested as a song, video, performance, and exhibitions (one is currently on view at Ve.sch in Vienna). Together with Stephanie and Kathryn Andrews we also did a three-person exhibition as part of Stephanie’s solo exhibition at Daniel Hug gallery in Chinatown, Los Angeles in 2007. This was right after an artist residency that we did together in Beijing, China. We each contributed pieces of our work, similar to an exquisite corpse drawing. In my films and videos I asked volunteers to act with limited, but very specific direction. I also made some videos with Isabell Spengler, Corinna Schnitt, Nancy De Holl, and Jenifer Sindon. Those were truly collaborative and anarchic in their structure. They are very spontaneous reactions to certain environments with virtually no preparation, and thanks to Isabell’s excellent editing skills, very fast post-production.
Alice Konitz, Stephanie Taylor, and Kathryn Andrews collaboration, Hug Fu, an installation at Daniel Hug Gallery in Los Angeles, 2007
Alice Konitz, Stephanie Taylor, and Kathryn Andrews collaboration, Cock, at the Courtyard Gallery in Beijing, 2007
You could describe the museum as a loose way of collaboration, where the tasks/boundaries are very clearly defined, similar to roles in a theater play. I’m interested in engaging in dialogues with other artists.
Symbol on Island, Image courtesy of the artist
AS: Please talk about making work particularly in Los Angeles and how it may effect (or not effect) your ideas and studio process?
AK: Los Angeles is a great place to make art, especially sculpture. It’s very spacious; the landscape is complex and consists of many vastly different areas. Sometimes it feels like time traveling from one era to the next. I am fascinated with its many histories. The art community is friendly and very open-minded. Everyone complains about the difficulties of having a social life, it can be lonely and too socially stressful at the same time, because the city is without a center and very widely spread out. Over time people arrange themselves in small communal niches. When I lived in Westlake, near Koreatown, I made sure that all my friends would move into my apartment complex, so we would be able to see each other without having to drive all over town. I try to avoid driving when I can. On some level the museum is a way to establish one of the many small centers in the city. I personally don’t care too much about the weather in Southern California. I don’t like it when it get’s too hot during the summer months. For my museum it’s practical that rainfall is seasonal and practically doesn’t happen between March and November. The climate probably does influence my work much more than I think.
Suspicious Random Objects, 2012, Image courtesy of the artist
AS: What other projects are you working on right now, what is upcoming?
AK: Currently I am working on my contribution to a three-person show with Pam Jorden and Jeff Ono at Samuel Freeman gallery on La Cienega Blvd. Another piece is included at the Sam Freeman gallery next month, and a few pieces at a show at Wharton Espinosa this spring. I’m showing a film and sculpture at a show called Masters of Irreverence in Downtown Los Angeles. Currently I’m in a group show at Ve.sch in Vienna, and there’s also an event called Dialogues Art/Architecture at the Schindler House and at For Your Art on Wilshire Blvd. I’m also working on designing book covers for Les Figues Press.
Aili Schmeltz is a Los Angeles based visual artist and co-founder of Los Angeles Art Resource.
2/22: MIA SCREENING SERIES: Q&A with the curator Alanna Simone
Interview by Petra Vackova
Portrait of Alanna Simone. Photo credit: Carolyn Radlo. Photo courtesy of Alanna Simone.
The MIA (Moving Image Art) screening series held at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena has been around since the summer of 2012 and since then it has attracted quite a lot of attention from moving image lovers and the general public alike. Alanna Simone, the MIA series curator and an artist, will tell us what this program is all about and why we should hitch a ride all the way to Pasadena.
PV: Hi Alanna, could you introduce the MIA Screenings Series to us and tell us what propelled you to organize such an event?
AS: Hi Petra, the MIA screening series is a new monthly event at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Every 4th Friday night I show a selection of new moving image artworks – that includes video art, experimental films, performance documentation, essay films and more. I work with video myself, and I wanted to put together a screening series for a while in order to enter the conversation with other artists who are working with the same set of tools.
Emmanuel Negre. The Fan, on view for Pasadena’s ArtNight, March 8th, 2013. Photo Courtesy of Alanna Simone.
PV: Could you elaborate a little more for us on the whole process of how this all came together from the first inspirations to the actual realization of the project?
AS: When I relocated to LA in 2011, it was time for a new project. The series has given me a way to introduce myself to people here, while providing a new platform to see the work that is being made now from all over the globe. I was inspired by the many artist-run screening nights and gallery events that have hosted my work in the past, so when the Armory was supportive, it was a no-brainer to get the project off the ground. Just as the series started, I got an extra shot in the arm from the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission, which awarded me a grant in support of the project.
PV: Please tell us more about the films you show.
AS: The artwork is really diverse, and for special events like ArtNight and the Earth & Arts festival which are both coming up, I’m able to show installation work and looped pieces as well as works which are best seen in a linear format. The regular screenings are organized around a theme, sometimes based on content or form, others on aesthetics or style.
PV: Is there a structure to the presentation of the films? What is your curatorial process from the selection of the work to the screening itself?
AS: I’m putting the shows together based on what I’m seeing out in the world and combining that with the material which is being submitted to MIA’s open call. I’d estimate that the breakdown is 10% pieces I’ve requested and 90% material culled from the submissions. My main interest is in the work, in seeing what artists are working on right now. The issues and concerns that the artworks communicate influence the themes that I end up focusing on. Of course, I have my own pet interest in artwork relating to the gender spectrum, our relationship to history, and alternative modes of communication.
PS: In these past months, did you encounter any work, film, artist, or any particular group, whose unique interpretation of this particular media stood out to you? Please, explain.
AS: I’ve been intrigued by the number of artists who are working without a camera. For example, a favorite in the November show by Austrian artist Viktoria Schmid, Foodfilms (2010) is a beautiful meditation of abstracted textures created by exposing film dusted with different ingredients of a symbolic meal. Sugar and salt crystals flit by in individual frames, leaving the viewer with a mesmerizing dance of shadow and light. Another interesting project is The Fan (2012) from French artist Emmanuelle Negre which uses the motion of spinning blades in a fan to separate the red, green and blue light from a projection. The Fan will be on display for ArtNight on March 8th.
Viktoria Schmid. Foodfilms, part of MIA’s Black Friday pop-up exhibition on Nov. 23rd, 2012. Photo courtesy of Alanna Simone
PV: I have also a couple of rather practical questions that may, however, be useful to others who are interested in curating/organizing a similarly interesting venture. Who is your fiscal sponsor and was it difficult to find sponsorship for this type of a project?
AS: Right now, MIA does not have a fiscal sponsor. The program is supported by a crack team of volunteers, in-kind donations from the Armory, an individual artist grant from the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and donations from our audience. The program is still very new, initially only planned for one trial year. Now that we know the series will continue into the future, the process of finding continuing sponsorship has really just begun.
PV: The Armory Center for the Arts is known for being a consistent supporter of art projects especially geared towards arts education and public outreach. Would you agree? And what is the role of the Armory Center for the Arts in the MIA Screenings Series?
AS: The Armory Center for the Arts is an amazing organization – they’re well known for their excellent education program, but I contend that the gallery programming is what makes it such an asset to the LA art scene. The MIA series wouldn’t be possible without the resources and staff that they have contributed and it is truly a pleasure to be working with such a great place.
PV: Alanna, thank you for taking time to answer some of our questions. In closing, please tell us what sets the MIA screenings apart from other such events this year and why it is worth everyone’s while.
AS: Make a date to spend an evening at MIA and I promise you’ll come away having seen something new – whether that’s a new way of looking, an introduction to an artist who’s never been shown in LA before, or new work by familiar local artists. Come on out and see us sometime!
For more information on current screenings or how to submit your work to the MIA series, please visit the MIA site: http://miascreen.com/
2/21/13 : STUDIO VISIT WITH PATRICIA FERNANDEZ
AS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.. your background, history, where you come from, your education, etc..
PF: I was born in Burgos, Spain in 1980, but only lived there a few years as a child, and later briefly as a teenager. I moved around a lot in my life- I also lived in The Hague, San Juan, and Los Angeles. I decided to move back to Los Angeles after a year studying at Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. I finished my undergraduate degree in Painting at UCLA, took a few years off again, traveling, and then went to Cal Arts for a Masters. For now, I live and work in Los Angeles.
AS: Please talk about your most current project in France, the ideas behind it, the fundraising process, the historical, and personal aspects of the project.
PF: I received a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs in Los Angeles, and with this was able to travel to Bordeaux and take part in the FLARE Program, (the France Los Angeles Residency Exchange). I talk more about my experience at the residency here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwGWKJ_pXU8
Fernandez on the first walk from Port Bou, Spain into Cerbere, France
I wanted to go to Bordeaux because of its close ties to Spain, as it had been historically a site of exile for many, beginning with Franco’s uprising against the Spanish Republic, up until the end of the dictatorship in 1975. I left Los Angeles in late November 2012 and began my project by crossing over the Pyrenees as many Spaniards had done in the mass exodus of 1939 known as La Retirada, which occurred at the end of the Spanish Civil War. More than 450,000 Republicans crossed the Franco-Spanish border at this time, and the French authorities underestimated the magnitude of the exodus.
I began by following the footsteps of a family friend Jose Garcia, who had crossed this same path, through Port Bou and into Cerbere before being placed into a concentration camp in Argeles Sur Mer. This route was one of the several points of entry into France- I found it interesting that after having worked with a collection of buttons, each one being able to carry its unique memory, I was approached by Jose who told me that he has crossed into France at the end of the Spanish Civil War with his own collection of buttons. For him, these buttons had served as a currency. He began to tell me of his voyage, and how he got to where he is today. I became very interested in his personal history, also the shared history with other Spanish Republicans, and how it was that this group of people became exiled. I was interested in the objects they carried over the border, what they lost, both literally and more abstractly. I became interested in writing their stories through textures, documents, paintings, objects and memories. Through this walking I was hoping to recuperate a history, or be able to read and make sense of the landscape, the Pyrenees….I wasn’t quite sure how this would work but I knew that it was important for me to retrace in this way before ending at my destination. Once in Bordeaux I hoped to be able to begin to piece together the personal histories of exiled Spanish Republicans, and meet people that would be able to map out their histories in this way.
Detail of archives
To my surprise, when I arrived at my studio in Bordeaux, I saw the massive Todt submarine base that I had heard so much about, there, right outside my windows. This structure was built under the German occupation, with the forced labor of many Spanish Republicans, Anarchists, and other prisoners..it was built to last forever. Many people died in its construction and to this day their bodies remain within its huge cement walls. It was sort of hard to think of anything else, so I became really obsessed with this part of the Republican history. I met Angel, a Spaniard who had also crossed through Port Bou and he told me stories about the construction of the base. He was involved in several sabotages against the Germans. I spent some time at the Municipal Archives looking through old documents, police surveillance reports, and going through political tracts. I wanted to know more about the base, this place that was the fate of so many Spaniards who thought they were leaving one dictatorship, only to enter a country that was under the control of another. I couldn’t find any documents. Everything had been destroyed by the Germans when they left France. So I began to construct my own archive of my experiences in Bordeaux, from the stories I was being told, and the history I came to learn while being there.
Detail of archives
Caminos/Chemins and Un livre a lire et un livre a difusser, oil on linen with frame, 31 x 39 cm
Douane-Port Bou-Cebere. oil on linen with frame, 31 x 39 cm
AS: What other projects are you working on right now, what is upcoming?
PF: I am working on an artist book right now with my friend who has a letter press, New Byzantium Press. This book is a project I began a couple of years ago and only just completed now when I went back to Paris this fall. It’s a book of collected writings, letters, and images that are about number 5 rue de Latran. I have made work about this site in the past. 5 rue de Latran was the site of Ruedo Ibérico, a printings press that was started by a small group of intellectuals, writers, and anarchists who printed books that were smuggled into Spain during Franco’s dictatorship. I spent some time living in the same building as this printing press, decades after it closed. My father had also spent much time there in the 1960s. At the time that I was there though, I didn’t know it. So it became interesting to me how history, or time seems to fold into itself. I also like to think that ideas are inherited, that somehow our conditions are very much contingent to our antecedent’s actions.
On March 30th we will have a book release at Commonwealth and Council Gallery, here in Los Angeles. I will also be showing a new piece there that is a “ten year sculpture”…
In April I return to France to attempt to complete the archive that I began constructing while I was at the residency in Bordeaux. I will also be doing another walk across the border, this time in the central Pyrenees.
AS: Please talk a bit about your studio process, both in making work alone and collaboratively. Where do your ideas come from, how are they developed, and how do you come to a final product?
PF: I make work in the studio for the most part, but it is outside of the studio where things begin. Travel is an important part of my work- it allows me to look outside of myself. It is also through my travels to Spain and other countries I have lived in that I have been able to uncover histories from the past, the past of my family, and weave those into a larger narrative.
In the studio I paint, draw, carve, construct, and collage. A lot of the work involves a repetitive task- it is labor intensive, meditative- and this is important to the pieces. But the work also stems from others. I couldn’t make any of this work without the participation of many of the people whom I become interested in within the work. There are many subjectivities involved so although I am alone in the studio process it is not something I see as an individualistic practice. For example, my grandfather has informed a lot of my work. I use his x carving pattern as a way to transmit an antecedents mark. It is a way of recording time, as well as a very distinctive mark of a person who was raised in Spain after the war. By using this mark I am writing his story as well as my own. I don’t think one can tell another person’s story without being implicated, without telling your own.
In the most recent project, I reconstructed many personal objects that were given to me by the people I met in Bordeaux. I also found fragments of stories that added to this collection, to these archives, and quite literally all these different things are being arranged in these folders….these folders that keep growing. In some ways I feel that these are a collaboration. They are a force larger than I am, I can’t seem to contain them. This particular work (working title: Points of Departure) is one that I do not see an end too. It has just started to expand. The stories keep growing and the events become connected in ways I did not imagine. What began with me retracing the footsteps of one man ended up being a map of thousands of exiled people. What I once believed to be the isolated event of the Spanish Cilvil War turned out to be just the beginning, the testing ground for the Nazi war machinery, the start of world war. This is how things develop in the work, in the studio, and in my mind. It’s hard to know when anything is finished because things don’t seem to stop. For the most part one project will lead to another, and often times these projects last for years.
Installation at La Fabrique Pola
AS: What inspires you? What do you read, watch, listen to, and research about that effects your work or thought process?
PF: I am really inspired by people that have lived a long life and share it with me. I love watching my grandfather carve while my grandmother tells me stories about how much things have changed in the landscape and the people around her. My parents inspire me, and also people that speak about things they have lived, which I cannot ever experience. I am interested in how our memories and lives are reimagined every time they are retold. Right now I am reading a book, which is sort of a memoir, about Nicolás Sánchez Albornoz, Cárceles y Exilios. And I am also reading The Spanish Labyrinth, a book that was once printed by Ruedo Ibérico.
AS: How does making work in Los Angeles effect (or not effect) your ideas and studio process?
PF: Los Angeles is the place I choose to live in because there is the room here to grow. There is a really strong artist community and there are risks being taken. What makes Los Angeles what it is seems to be is constantly changing; the people that make up this city are not necessary born here, but they are part of it, they are the defining elements of the culture of Los Angeles. I choose to live here and that freedom is what allows me to create my work- to investigate personal narratives, unwritten histories, and construct a familial mythology.
Visit Patricia’s website at patriciafernandez.com
Aili Schmeltz is a Los Angeles based visual artist and co-founder of Los Angeles Art Resource.
1/21/13: STUDIO VISIT WITH SUBVECTA MOTUS GALLERY
By Erin Jourdan
Our first Studio Visit of the year is an interview with Justin Kell, owner of Glory Motor Works and curator at his new in-house gallery, Subvecta Motus Gallery. The space’s first show, works by April Greiman was open through January 13, 2013.
EJ: What is the history of Subvecta Motus? How and why did you create it?
JK: The Subvecta Motus Gallery was founded to bring a different element to the space that houses my design studio and vintage motorcycle shop. When I moved into the current space in Glendale, I immediately saw the potential for exhibiting artwork in an industrial setting. My love of art and design has guided me through many different areas of work over the years. I’ve worked in architectural restoration, owned a retail store, designed clothing, restored vintage motorcycles and produced bikes for feature films. These are all very stimulating and challenging vocations, but at their core, centered in design and art.
As a curator, I love the idea of showing work that may not fit a preconceived notion of what you would expect hanging on the walls of a motorcycle based business. The addition of the gallery is a great balance when our motorcycle projects seem to consume our very being.
EJ: What is the basis of your curatorial process?
JK: When the idea to open the gallery was first talked about, I knew that I should bring in some outside consultants. I’ve always considered myself a fan of the art world, but am admittedly unfamiliar with the workings of a gallery and was somewhat out of touch with the Los Angeles art scene. I enlisted the help of fellow motorcyclist, Stacie B. London who also makes her living in the museum world. My first conversation with her expressed my desire to showcase artists that would be unexpected to show in a space like this. I love the idea of showing very high end work in an industrial setting. Stacie’s understanding of this aesthetic moved her to invite April Greiman for our inaugural showing. To me, her work balances motion and serenity; two things that I always seem to be chasing.
EJ: How do you sustain your gallery and keep it running?
JK: Sustaining the gallery is something that I’m still trying to figure out. Because the space is shared with my other business, we do have the advantage of not relying solely on sales of artwork to stay open. That being said, I’d love to see some grant money. I hadn’t really though of that– sign me up. After the initial show opening, we operate by appointment only and tailor our hours to the needs of the customer. This, I feel, allows us to work hand in hand with people and makes the selling of work a much more personalized process. Of course, we do like to throw a party, so the openings are meant to bring in new faces and see familiar ones. I really want this space to be warm and comfortable. On the opening of April’s show, people wouldn’t leave, which is always a good sign of a successful party.
EJ: What is your gallery known for? What show do you have up currently?
JK: I really want our gallery to be known for solid, inspiring art. If I can give someone the same feeling I get when I see a piece of art that moves me, then I’m successful. My love of motion and travel really does set the tone for the work that we show. I strongly believe that art should influence every step we take. The process of motion is something that every one of us depends on. To me, life is a constant journey both physically and spiritually. When an artist captures his or her personal journey, it affects us all. Art tells a story and I believe that we take these snapshots with us throughout our lives. Many words could be written to describe what I would like to accomplish with the opening of this gallery, but when it comes down to it’s simplest form, I just want people to leave here feeling happy and inspired.
EJ: What do you plan on showing in the future?
JK: As we continue to accept submissions from artists around the world, I’m very excited about the different directions that we can go. I want to continue to bring in artists of all mediums that will challenge the thinking process of what this gallery is or should be. The beauty of art and in this case, an art gallery, is that there are no rules. The freedom to do what ever inspires us and show whatever moves us is what makes this worth doing. The great response that we’ve received from artists wishing to show here has been very encouraging. Like all of my businesses, I plan on letting the universe drive, and I’ll follow the gallery on it’s own terms.
EJ:What is your next show?
JK: February 9, 2013- April 19, 2013 Subvecta Motus Gallery is presenting UNITED STATE the collected works of London based painter Conrad Leach. Conrad’s approach to bold graphics and fluid motion make his work an exact fit with the philosophy of this space. Both Stacie and myself have been working with Conrad for the past year to really tailor this show to not only the space, but to California as a way of life. We are all very excited about this show.
Check out Subvecta.com for more information.
12/09: STUDIO VISIT WITH JULIANA PACIULLI
by Ellen Hermann
Juliana Paciulli gave LAAR an inside look into her studio and told us how her art has evolved over the years. She began by showing us her series of photographs entitled “The Girl Who Knew Too Much.”
LAAR: Can you tell us a little about these photographs?
JP: “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” is a group of large format color images that are set in white oval shaped frames and each individual image is titled with the subject’s name. The oval shape, which is often considerers a more female form, references the circular field of view through a lens as well as victorian design. Each image depicts a girl or woman experiencing or participating in one specific moment that is indicative of a larger plot or theme. The different scenes are rooted in my memory of particular events but also formally reference painting, contemporary advertising, cinema and snapshots.
LAAR: So do you work primarily in photography?
JP: I started making these images when I was in grad school and then continued working on them until about 2008. I had previously made sculpture, performance and video work, but during grad school I became interested in film and it’s history. Incorporating my new knowledge of cinema with my previous ideas about performance, I began taking these pictures. In 2008 I started making videos that are shown with photographs. I’m currently working on a sound piece that will probably have some video or photo counterparts.
LAAR: The images in this series are much bigger than I expected. Was there any specific reason for that?
JP: I wanted these images to have a very human scale/presence and for the viewer to be confronted with figures that are, in some cases, close to life-size.
Next, Juliana showed us her video “The Other Side, March 1994” and the photographs that are shown with the video.
JP: As I was finishing up “The Girl Who Knew Too Much,” I made this six minute video of a girl giving a biographical book report about Jim Morrison while a teacher simultaneously interprets it in sign language.
LAAR: That seems like a really specific incident. Were you drawing on a similar personal experience?
JP: Yes. I did a similar book report when I was 13 for my English class. At the time, I had developed a total Morrison obsession, totally mistaking his aloofness and arrogance for depth. I was thrilled when we were able to choose our own topic for a presentation, and choose him. I re-read Jim Morrison’s biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, while researching this piece and I realized that my interpretation and perception now lacked any nostalgic idealization and I even had some very negative feelings toward him! Knowing I could not recapture my youthful fascination I hired a 13 year-old girl to read the book and write the report for the piece.
Amy Playing the Drums
LAAR: Can you describe the photographs that accompanied the film?
JP: There are character portraits of Amy, the girl, and Nakia, the teacher, and an image of Amy playing the drums. I made “Amy Playing The Drums” as a visual extension of the narrative in the video, to present another representation of her interacting with music in a way that women are not often depicted, and to add another layer to the interplay between sound and silence that happens throughout the piece. Here, she is obviously creating sound, but it’s silenced by the photographic medium. When I started working on this piece, I was more focused on the narrative. But after making it, I realized the important role of sound, silence and language. I’m now very aware of these things and am currently working with them more specifically in newer pieces.
Next, Juliana showed us her video “Go Ask Alice” and the accompanying photographs, “Snake (Eyes)” and “Cracked Egg.”
Go Ask Alice
LAAR: Can you describe these a little bit for us?
JP: In the video, a snake swallows a quail egg and regurgitates the shell, as the made-for-TV movie of the anti-drug teen novel “Go Ask Alice,” plays in the background. I’d had an idea for a photograph of a snake eating an egg years ago, and it came back into my head and led me to begin researching that kind of imagery. I stumbled upon a YouTube video of an egg eater and was completely enamored — it was perfectly natural, perfectly bizarre and totally surreal. In order to provide some context for the snake/egg interaction and to continue my examination of an image’s relationship to sound, I decided to have the movie playing on a television that is off screen for most of the video. There are two photographs shown with the video. The first, “Cracked Egg” shows a broken quail egg with the yolk spilling onto the same Mexican blanket the snake’s terrarium sits on in the video. And “Snake (Eyes)” is a portrait of the snake sitting on a backdrop of rainbow colored Spirograph ovals.
Go Ask Alice Installation
LAAR: Here, and in a lot of your work, there seems to be a strong commentary on male/female relationships and the male/female dichotomy. How do you see that fitting into your work?
JP: When I began taking images for “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” I was interested in the difference between how men photograph women and women photograph women. And I also wanted to create a group of images populated only by women. The dichotomy between the male and female has really only become more prominent and resonant in my video works. “The Other Side” is about a girl’s heterosexual adolescent infatuation with a hyper-sexual rock idol. And in “Go Ask Alice” the snake clearly symbolizes the male and it is eating an egg — a very charged, and even archetypal, female symbol — and then spitting out the shell. In both pieces the men are represented as iconic ideals, rock star/priest/snake, while the female characters are more rooted in reality.
LAAR: Where do you see your art going from here? What are you working on now?
JP: I’m working on new pieces for my show at Green Exhibitions next fall. I’m still in the very early stages, but just recorded a sound piece that I’m very excited to edit!!
For more information about Juliana, visit her website at julianapaciulli.com
10/12: INTERVIEW WITH ALEJANDRO GARCIA CONTRERAS OF NETER PROYECTOS
by Ofelia Del Corazon
Neter Proyectos, Mexico City. Photo Courtesy of Neter Proyectos.
Los Angeles Art Resource was sharing a wall with Mexico City gallery Neter Proyectos, a space run by Alejandro Garcia Contreras and eight other artists in Mexico City. I walked by the handsome young artist, Alejandro and was instantly drawn to his easy smile and kind energy (the black leather motorcycle jacket didn’t hurt either). He was speaking very quickly to a pretty young woman who was examining one of his prints as she teetered atop very expensive shoes. Alejandro uttered something softly in English and she took a step back, eyes widening “Whoa! That’s cheap!” she exclaimed as she reached for her purse. I smiled to myself, happy that he seemed to be sealing a deal and took a moment to look at some of the other work on the walls. Alejandro’s love for American pop culture is evident in his work — the images of dead and decaying porn stars, rock icons and horror film zombies seem to poke fun at themselves even in their idolatry.
Images from Neter Proyectos set up at Co/labat Art Platform, Barker Hanger, Los Angeles. 2012. Photo courtesy of Neter Proyectos.
I was admiring some tiny paper boxes and a small ceramic sculpture of a dead creature pawing at a naked young woman when Alejandro approached me ”Everything is so tiny.” I said. ”We try to keep the costs and the prices low to make the art accessible for as many people as possible” he replied “Also, you know, to make back some of the money we had to spend for tickets to come here. Also all of our events are free and open to the public.” I smiled again, “That’s very punk rock of you!” I said. Alejandro beamed ”Yes! We are very punk rock. You should see the house that Neter is in. It’s a big beautiful rich old house but it’s all covered in graffiti now. We never paint the walls white for shows! We just let anyone paint all over it!”
Views from Pabellon Ramires & “Te Conosco De Vista” exhibitions at Neter Proyectos. Images courtesy of Neter Proyectos
I was sure that Alejandro seemed like the kind of person I would like to be friends with. He agreed to let me interview him and I led him out of the brightly lit white corridors of the Co/Lab art fair stalls and into the cool and quiet sanctuary of a dim air cement staircase. A red velvet rope hung across the stairway and we ducked beneath the “AUTHORIZED PERSONEL ONLY” sign together as I fumbled with Aili’s Iphone trying to figure out how to make a decent recording of his soft voice.
Pabellon Ramires at Neter Proyectos, image courtesy of Neter Proyectos
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Mexicans are a culture obsessed with death. I grew up knowing that death and spirits were a fact of everyday life. We shared our kitchens with the ghosts of our ancestors, erected alters for them and lit candles for them every Sunday. I was very saddened that the Neter Proyectos community has suffered a very recent death in their family, Neter’s founder and director, Axel Velázquez died last Sunday. Alejandro’s eyes watered ”I can’t believe I forgot to mention that,” said Alejandro as we sat
down on the stairs. There is often very little a stranger or anyone can say to provide comfort when the trauma of the loss is so fresh. ”I can’t believe you made it.” I replied dumbly. Alejandro’s voice wavered “Axel was my best friend. But he worked really hard for us to come here and wanted to honor him by coming and doing our best.” I nodded in agreement. It is certain that artists at Neter have been devastated to by the loss of their beloved director Axel Velázquez . But it is also clear that the artists are committed to upholding Neter’s mission to provide a free and accessible space for emerging artists to exhibit their work. In that, Axel’s memory is sure to be honored in the hearts and minds of Mexico City arts community for years to come.
Neter Proyectos exterior, photo courtesy of Neter Proyectos
Watch the video of Alejandro’s interview to hear about Neter Proyecto’s unique
artist run space.
To learn more about Neter Proyectos and to see more amazing photos of their work and their space, “like” them on Facebook here. They also have a website, here, but it is currently being repaired as it was crashed by spam robots.
9/26: INTERVIEW WITH TILT EXPORT:
by Erin Jourdan
Josh Smith & Jenene Nagy of TILT Export:. Photo courtesy of Tilt Export:.
LAAR: What is the history of TILT Export:? How and why did you create it?
TILT Export::is an independent curatorial project started by Jenene Nagy and Josh Smith, former curators of Tilt Gallery and Project Space. TGPS was located in the Chinatown of Portland, Oregon and ran from January 2006-August 2008. After a successful stint at that location, Josh and I decided we were ready to rethink our format. TILT Export: allows us to continue working with artists who produce difficult to show and project based works while expanding our audience by partnering with a wide range of venues.
TILT Export: at galleryHOMELAND. 2009. Photo courtesy of Tilt Export. Click here to read the Portland Mercury article about this exhibition.
LAAR: What is the basis of your curatorial process?
Tilt Export:: Continuing the mission of exhibiting project-based and difficult to show work that we first introduced through the programming of Tilt Gallery and Project Space, TILT Export: functions as a series of themed exhibitions produced both regionally and across the US. Each exhibition will be hosted by distinctly different gallery spaces allowing the artists to focus on the nuances each space has to offer. TILT Export: serves as a catalyst for opportunity, awareness, and the challenging of ideas through art making.
Kartz Ucci. Solo Exhibition. 2009. Photo Courtesy of Tilt Export:
TILT Export:: As an independent curatorial project we don’t have the expenses associated with a brick and mortar, which was another reason we were looking to change our model. We have some private funding as well as in-kind donations and we assist our artists with grant writing to help secure funds. Exhibitions we have produced have been funded in part by the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation.
We are currently seeking a venue for our next exhibition, Saboteur, which will feature two of the artists we will be showing at Co/lab, Lauren Clay and Craig Drennen.
TILT Export:: New work by artists from Ben Buswell (PDX), Karl Burkheimer (PDX), Lauren Clay (NYC), Craig Drennen (ATL), and Heidi Schwegler(PDX). Schwegler will have a beautifully dark and disturbing video and Buswell has these obsessively carved out photos that read as drawings.
9/25: INTERVIEW WITH FELT SPACE
by Arjuna Neuman
FELTspace exterior view, image courtesy of the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia.
How did you find your way to running an artist-run-space?
JLM: I was one of the first artists to exhibit at FELTspace and was close friends with the founding members. I started volunteering and eventually was invited to become Co-Director, It seemed like the natural step. There was a sense of community that FELTspace promoted, I wanted to be a part of this. FELTspace’s program was initially contained within the gallery but over time, we have developed close ties with the wider ARI (Artist Run Initiatives) community within Australia and more recently abroad.
PR: I had admired FELTspace’s vision since its inception and have always believed that FELTspace was an artist run space that encouraged its members to bring new ideas and proposals to the table. FELTspace has continually developed over time, and I believed that the possibility of being involved in, and contributing to, national and international projects seemed like an exciting opportunity.
Matt Huppatz with Lynne Sanderson, Monte Masi and Corpse Club. FELTspace ‘SOFT CORN (Installation view).’December 2010. Photo by Matt Huppatz
How do you feel about the art climate in Adelaide and Australia? Specifically the artist-run-space community?
JLM: The artist run community is Australia is thriving. There’s a diverse range of spaces, and a lot of collaboration between these spaces. There seems to be an ever increasingly number of exciting new projects emerging. This is great to see, as there is a real strength reflected in these initiatives and there is much support for them in the wider arts community.
PR: Adelaide has always had a very strong arts sector. Nationally there is a lot of support for artist run spaces and increasingly these ARI’ s are becoming involved in, and working with, larger Biennials, Festivals and public institutions.
Tony Garifalakis, James L. Marshall, Takeshi Murata, Christian Tedeschi. ‘Hollywood Forever (Installation view).’ 2011. Photo by Sofia Calado
Tell me about FELTspace? How are shows organized? What is the level of collaboration with both curators and artists?
PR: FELTspace is a gallery located in Adelaide, South Australia. Our committee is a group of artists and curators with a shared commitment to promoting innovative and experimental contemporary art Australia. More recently FELTspace has developed projects internationally as well. The current board of Directors is Sundari Carmody, Polly Dance, Ray Harris, James L. Marshall, Riley O’Keefe and Patrick Rees.
JLM: We encourage artists and curators to engage with FELTspace in a dialogue at the early stages of project development. We encourage ambitious, experimental projects and provide a platform where artists feel free to push the boundaries of the project and utilise all aspects of the space.
Tell me a little about your curatorial approach, where do you find artists and where do ideas for shows come from? Do you take proposals?
JLM: There has always been a high level of support amongst FELTspace Directors and we often develop projects together from an early stage. This has personally enabled me to focus on international projects, which have included exhibitions featuring prominent, US and European artists. 2012 has been an exciting year and Co/Lab will be our second International Art Fair.
We have also recently developed a national project bringing together Australian Artists, Writers, Curators and Designers. The standard of applications we received was exciting and the opportunity to enable these projects to be realised has been really satisfying.
PR: We like to balance our calendar between accepted proposals, independently curated exhibitions and invitational projects. One of FELTspace’s founding drives was to create and sustain a platform for emerging South Australian artists and while the range of our projects have expanded globally since then this is a core of FELTspace’s identity.
Patrick Rees, ‘The Dystopian Utopianator Redux’, Installation view, 2012.
Can you tell me about the last few shows, what worked, what didn’t? and what is coming up in the future?
PR: In 2012 we have had some great opportunities. We have been involved in numerous exchange shows with other prominent ARI’s nationally, and have begun a new festival series called De-Versions, which brought together really diverse projects from a range of disciplines. Our current show is entitled Homeopathic Fiction and later in the year there will be an exhibition about death called Good Mourning, featuring South Australian and National artists. I feel like it is always a balancing act with an ARI. We need to work together as a team of Co-Directors, and in so doing balance our sometimes different artistic visions with the overall collective aims and philosophies of FELTspace. Sometimes this can result in vigorous debates about the projects we should take on. However, ultimately the fact that we have a group of strong minded individuals involved with FELTspace means that we are often involved in a rigorous discourse and debate about future projects, which is ultimately really healthy.
JLM: Yes, De-Versions was a great festival. One of my highlights was curating a series of midnight screenings which included video works by Erin Coates, Heath Franco, Julian Hoeber, Simon Kentgens & Kurt Augustyns. There are a lot of exciting projects being developed for the future. This again has come through the relationships we have developed with other ARI’s an independent curators and artists. While I wouldn’t say that any of our projects haven’t worked, more ambitious projects can be a logistical challenge. As we are all primarily artists, our committee have had to develop an expansive set of skills to make it all work. Over the years we have learnt from our mistakes but we are always facing new challenges.
Finally what makes FELTspace unique?
JLM: FELTspace is one of the longest running ARI’s in Adelaide with a space specifically dedicated to showcasing contemporary art. It’s great to be a part of an organisation that at it’s heart is about creating dialogue within the visual arts community.
PR: As far as I know, FELTspace is the first and only ARI to establish an artist residency in outer space.
9/14: INTERVIEW WITH THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAIS VU
-by Danielle McCullough
The following interview is the result of an email and skype base conversation with the 16 members of The Institute of Jamais Vu. The Institute is a North London gallery and publishing facility situated in the center of a cooperative living space built by the artist members. As the Institute an artists’ collective comprised of 16 individuals, their replies to my questions have been interpreted and edited by Isaac Clarke — one of the founders and board members of this multi-faceted project.
The Board of Directors. Photo Courtesy of the Institute of Jamais Vu.
LAAR: Please tell us about the founding of the Institute, the whos, wheres and whens.
THE INSTITUTE: The Institute came into being as an idea and a project in late 2010 and had a physical space by July 2011. We come from all over England. Many of us met at Art School in the Northern town of Leeds though we’ve all had experience in the running of projects or publishing or gallery work etc. I think it’s fair to say that that collective pool of experience is what brought us together. We are Isaac Clarke, Joshua Hart, Sarah Birtles, Elinor Cantrill, Harlan Whittingham, Tom Bennett, Jennifer Bull, Ashley Bailey, Benjamin Slinger, Kieren Hennessy, Patrick Beardmore, Emilie Spark Guillaume, Francis Lloyd-Jones, Leah Clements, Ingram Roeder & Joseph Buckley. [For brief bios and links, see the end of this article]
LAAR: Something that is noticeably different about your website from others is that it thwarts efforts to make an easy read and has a deliberately anonymous quality to the text. This contrasts starkly with the exhibition space which has a very specific flavor of being an inner sanctum, a kind of panic room which several artists seem to have addressed in a site specific way. Please tell us more about your decision to present yourselves as an institute. . . and would you consider the website to be related to net art in any way?
Henry Meadley at the Institute of Jamais Vu. Photo courtesy of The Institute of Jamais Vu.
THE INSTITUTE: The word ‘thwart’ is peculiarly apt. With regards to the website, I’d agree that there might be similar techniques and manipulations employed those artists who use the internet as a medium but the website is not a work of art. There are a few design decisions that resulted in our website looking the way that it does, and, chief amongst them, is the idea that the design should follow the idea of the space.
How do you make something that’s never really the same? – and so [on the site] colours slide into each other, we use Arial, a font who’s birth is notoriously wrapped up in accusations of plagiarism.
These decisions are many things but could perhaps be interpreted as an attempt towards a neutrality through inclusion: an attempt to be everything but still empty enough for everything else.
I think it’s a philosophy that carries directly into the space. The website is just the website, it’s how to find out where we are and what we’ve done. It is no real venue for anything other than documentation. The website isn’t even the Institute of Jamais Vu, it’s not what we are, all it does is point to us. We are what we do. We have no manifesto of words; our manifesto is a manifesto of action. We manifest ourselves through the art that we help to bring about into the real world.
It’s interesting you refer to our gallery as appearing ‘panic room’-esque, in life it is far more domineering a presence; it is like a space ship. It is a massive white cube: six metres by four metres with ten foot high walls and a shadow gap. We sought to create a space that, from documentation alone, would not be obvious that it was in a warehouse, would not be obvious that it was in England, would not be obvious that it was in Europe.
Towards a Free Society: Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson. Photo Courtesy of the Institute of Jamais Vu.
Who we are, our approach and what it is that we do is denoted by our name – JAMAIS VU is he opposite of DEJA VU, in short it means to be shocked by the sudden and apparent newness of something that had become invisibly familiar.
What we are doing is ineffably ancient, creative people have banded together in order to facilitate art since forever, call it a guild if you like or a monastery or the Yellow House or the Factory but at the same time, by the very nature of doing it again in a new time and a new place, what we are doing is also brand new.
When we started, we decided that we wanted to be as different as possible and that’s not a put down to anyone else but rather it is to say we wanted to be as good as we could possibly be. Many of us are artists and many of us have had bad experiences dealing with institutions. We wanted to become the institution that we wanted to see, we wanted to be able to treat artists the way we thought they deserved to be treated. So in this sense the appropriation of institute-hood is really a declaration of both intent and ambition.
LAAR: Please tell us more about the institute’s press and your interest in artist publications…When we “met” via Skype you were all in the library — what are some of the highlights of that collection?
Publications by the Institute of Jamais Vu. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Jamais Vu.
THE INSTITUTE: Publishing is important to us despite the fact that thus far it has played a mainly supporting role to the exhibitions we have held. Our publications tend to inhabit the sticky, weird, exciting space between ‘book-as-artwork’ and ‘exhibition catalogue’. On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to help artists create works that people can afford to take home with them — though there is another more pressing reason for our publication programme and it’s to do with history. Artist run spaces are so often forgotten once they have passed that it felt particularly pertinent for us to document and archive ourselves. The website, the publishing and the trail of books behind us are proof that we have existed. We own our history.
LAAR: Please describe, in detail, your space/living arrangements. Your space has particularly fascinating physical properties – such as having the gallery in the center, surrounded by the living spaces you’ve built out. How did you put that together?
THE INSTITUTE: London is an expensive city. The economies of scale are such that £100 pounds a week will barely get you a dingy bedsit but by pooling our money together we were able to afford a far wider range of properties. We are based in a warehouse in North East London. It’s about 5000 sq ft in total. When we arrived in July of 2011 there were a few basic amenities but it was more or less a building site. We turned it into a liveable environment through sheer bloody mindedness and hard work. We built a kitchen and a workshop and, of course, we built the gallery. We couldn’t have built the gallery without the space we found and we found that space in order to build the gallery.
BRINK – LEEDS UNITED, L FOUNDATION, MOMA. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Jamais Vu.
LAAR: What are some of the strategies that you employ to maintain a communal live/ work situation? Your library looked incredibly tidy during our video conference – do you have regularly scheduled household chores? Do you regularly share meals together, or is everyone on wholly divergent schedules?
THE INSTITUTE: We all live on entirely different schedules. What we do together, this thing of ours, is what ultimately pulls us all together as a group.
LAAR: What sort of work does everyone do to stay afloat?
THE INSTITUTE: None of us are rich — we have inherited nothing — so we do the usual: we wait tables, we clean dishes, we paint walls, we fold clothes and we stand in uniforms in galleries making sure children don’t touch the Picassos. Some have grants and some have loans. It is difficult but broadly speaking: it is worth it.
LAAR: Was your space, or any space you know of, adversely affected by the Olympics this summer? I heard tell that some artists were evicted to make room.
THE INSTITUTE: We live in North London so weren’t ever really in the firing line. From what I understand it was mainly East London that was affected, there were stories abound of landlords indiscriminately evicting tenants in order to capitalize on a predicted rent spike, but how extensive a practice that was and just how worthwhile that was for the landlords is unclear at present. Like many things to do with the Olympics, it’s true effects will only become clear in time.
LAAR: What is your curatorial process like? Is it consensus based? How long does that process take? Could you describe some specific instances of how that has played out ( you can black out names– just curious about how that works).
THE INSTITUTE: I suppose you could say we curate by committee. The mechanics of that process sound slightly unbelievable, even as I say it myself, but all we do is get together once or twice the preceding season and spend a lovely afternoon talking about art we really care about. We individually bring forward people and discuss their merits compared to others, how they would sit within a programme of shows, etc. etc. and come to a consensus. It can be difficult and they are usually very long meetings but such methods mean that we can safely avoid nepotism and that we have well balanced seasons. We’ve found that with honesty and commitment anything is possible.
Kitty Clark, Photo courtesy of the Institute of Jamais Vu.
LAAR: What will you be bringing to Co/lab?
THE INSTITUTE: We’ll be taking some amazing works by a group of artists who we’ve worked with in the first season and who we will be working with in our second season. It will be a very sculptural affair.
The Board Of Directors for the Institute of Jamais Vu
Joshua Hart (b.1990) recent exhibition
Sarah Birtles (b.19??) BA Illustration
Elinor Cantrill (b.1990)
Harlan Whittingham (b.198?) BA Film Production
Tom Bennett (b.1990) working on a film called DIVE
Jennifer Bull (b.1991)
Ashley Bailey (b.19??) currently living in Vienna.
Benjamin Slinger (b.1990) working on film DIVE
Kieren Hennessy (b.198?) New manager of BA Anthropology
Patrick Beardmore (b.1991) BA graphic design
Emilie Spark Guillaume (b.1990)
Francis Lloyd-Jones (b.1989) recent exhibitions:’10′New Gallery, Camberwell, London ’2011; Videoworks’ Brass Monkey,Edinburgh & Oranmore, Ireland
Leah Clements (b.1989)
Ingram Roeder (b.1991)
9/7: INTERVIEW WITH UNTITLED ART PROJECTS
-by Ellen Hermann
Terence Sanders of Untitled Projects, Photo courtesy of Untitled Projects
LAAR recently paid a visit to Untitled Artprojects. Located in a rather unassuming commercial space near Rampart Village, just south of the 101, Untitled Artprojects is a one-room gallery that shows works by up-and-coming artists. The current exhibit Authenticity? will be up through October 9, and includes works by Guiyoung Hwang, Danielle Dean, Jumana Manna, Patrick Flood, Monica Rodriguez, Harry Gamboa Jr., Nate Young, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Ramak Fazel, Jamilah Sabur, Larissa Brantner, Ariane Vielmetter, Jeff Lipschutz, Lauren Halsey, Simone Montemurno, Erich Bollmann, and Sage Paisner. Subtitled “Artists Questioning Origin and the Everyday through Didactic and Trompe-L’Oeil Aesthetic Strategies,” the show deals with issues of identity and difference through various media. Bags of incense, protest signs, and prints of museum visitors all make different, but intersecting, statements regarding political and cultural identity.
Director and curator of Untitled Artprojects, Terrence Sanders, intentionally selects artists and works that create a dialogue with the viewer and break down social and cultural barriers. He is also founder and editor-in-chief of Artvoices Magazine, which further explores many of the themes addressed in his gallery exhibits. Several issues of the magazine are displayed on the gallery’s back wall and are worth taking a closer look. LAAR caught up with Sanders to talk about his experience running an art space in Los Angeles after living and working extensively in New York and New Orleans.
LAAR: When did you start Untitled Artprojects, who was involved and what motivated you to open the space?
TS: I started Untitled Artprojects in June of 2011. I decided to open an exhibition space for emerging artists who were contributing to the dialog of contemporary art. A space, not a gallery, a happening, not an exhibition.
LAAR: Can you describe your curatorial process? Are there any themes or ideas that Untitled Artprojects tends to focus on?
TS: We tend to show works from artists that are prolific and provocative. Artists who articulate the political and social climate.
LAAR: What do you consider the artist or curator’s primary role? How do you work towards this with Untitled Artprojects?
TS: A curator’s role is to separate the real from the fake, the trend from the fad, advising museums, collectors and the public-at-large on what artists and movements are relevant.
LAAR: Could you tell us a little bit about your selection process? How do you choose which artists you work with? Do you have any upcoming calls for entry, or open calls for proposals that you would like to encourage artists to apply to?
TS: I select artists to exhibit based on their work and the work alone. I don’t care who your parents are and or where you went to school. If you are creating important work that communicates and evokes a response from the viewer then you are on my radar.
Opening reception for Authenticity? at Untitled Artprojects,
photo courtesy of Untitled Art Projects
LAAR: What upcoming projects are you working on? What can we expect to see from you at the upcoming Co/Lab art fair?
TS: I’m currently organizing group exhibitions that feature emerging artists from LA art schools CalArts, UCLA and the Art Institute of California, to name a few. You can expect to see the most important relevant artists the United States has to offer at the Untitled Artprojects booth at CoLab.
LAAR: You’ve talked about how art breaks down social and cultural barriers. How does your work with Untitled Artprojects relate to this?
TS: Art communicates in a visual dialog that everyone can understand. Untitled Artprojects is a space that welcomes all people no matter race, religion or belief to participate in open discussions on any topics. Nothing is taboo here or off limits.
LAAR: In other interviews, you’ve mentioned that you strive to initiate dialogue between the subject and the viewer? How do you see this dialogue playing out? Is there anything in particular that you want the art to communicate?
TS: That we’re all connected.
LAAR: You’ve worked extensively in New Orleans. How does running an art space in Los Angeles compare to New Orleans?
TS: In New Orleans you’re always battling tradition and forward progress. L.A. is all about contemporary art and is more in line with my practice and process.
Untitled Artprojects view from Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, Photo courtesy of Untitled Artprojects
LAAR: How do you see Untitled Artprojects fitting in to the Los Angeles art world? What niche does it fill?
TS: Untitled Artprojects bridges the gap between artist and collector in hopes that great works from great artists don’t go undiscovered because of geography, opportunity and or exposure.
For more information, contact Terrence Sanders at:
Phone: (213) 388 firstname.lastname@example.orgEmail:
Visit the space at 3309 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 9004
and check out their website at: http://www.untitledartprojects.com
9/7 INTERVIEW WITH JAUS
-by Ellen Hermann
Chris Tallon, Ichiro Irie, and Aska Irie, Photo Courtesy of JAUS
LAAR: Please tell us about yourselves- who is involved in JAUS, your background, when you opened your space, the main ideas behind your space, etc.
JAUS: JAUS is principally artist Chris Tallon and myself [Ichiro Irie]. Chris ran the artist run space Latch gallery until 2004 and was also founding member of the artist group Kudzu. His work was shown most notably at Mark Moore gallery. He also has architectural training at University of Florida and UCLA. I went to Mexico City after finishing my MFA at CGU in 2001. In Mexico I ran a contemporary art publication RiM from 2002-2006 and did a 12 month project space RiMJAUS in Mexico City from 2005-2006 before I moved back to L.A. We opened our space on September 11, 2009.
The main idea is to provide a forum and a platform to manifest curatorial projects by ourselves, and also outside curators both internationally and locally.
LAAR: How would you describe your curatorial process? Where do you get the ideas for your exhibitions? How do you develop those ideas?
JAUS: My own curatorial practice stems from certain links I find between 3 or more artists, either formally, in terms of subject matter, or in broader conceptual or philosophical terms. Around these artists I try to research or find more artists with similar concerns or aesthetics and develop an idea around those terms. More often than not, I try to bring together artists from disparate geographic and/or cultural communities, at different stages of their careers, and try to make sure contrasting genres and media are represented in any show I curate.
For example, with the show I am curating in November, I am riffing off of a scientific investigation called the “Bouba Kiki Experiment” where they ask people from different cultures to respond to two different types of shapes, one pointy and the other bulbous. The pointy shape is the Kiki and the bulbous shape is the Bouba. Artist Marcos Lutyens made one body of work based on this idea. I began to think of other artists that I know or have worked with who also make Bouba or Kiki-like work. The show will feature works by 7+ artists, including Lutyens, around this idea.
Summer Soul Sis exhibition at JAUS, Photo courtesy of JAUS
LAAR: It seems like JAUS features works in a wide variety of media. Is this intentional? How does an openness to diverse media reflect JAUS’s philosophy?
JAUS: I feel there is a relationship to aesthetics and media as there is to ideology and politics, tradition and the ruptures thereof. To be married to a certain aesthetic or philosophy, and a tendency towards specialization, although admirable, has never been my M.O. nor that of Chris Tallon. I feel my personal philosophy always tends towards an expansive outlook, a skepticism towards hermetic systems. I try to embrace often contradictory positions, both the marginal and the mainstream, even those I do not always subscribe to. Hopefully this will stimulate a healthy dialogue. Of course, we don’t just allow anything. This openness has to be tempered with discernment, or you just have a free for all with little ambition or criteria. That being said, once I invite a curator, I try to give him/her absolute free reign aside from the physical and fiscal limitations the space has. I try to encourage experimentation, and when appropriate, irreverence.
LAAR: What is currently going on at JAUS? What do you have coming up?
JAUS: On September 14 the show “Case Study Los Angeles II: On the Perimeter” will open. The show is curated and organized by Devon Tsuno of Concrete Wall Projects. It will feature: John Burtle, Derric Eady, Janice Gomez, Nathan Huff, Kyle Riedel, Maria Ruvalcaba, Yoshie Sakai, Nicolas Shake, and Jonathan Takahashi.
LAAR: What can we look forward to seeing from you at the upcoming Co/Lab art fair?
JAUS: We are sharing a space with Gallery Lara. So far, we are planning to show the work of Chris Sicat and Aska Irie. I may have another addition or two. I still need to discuss with Yuko Wakaume, director of Lara, about final arrangements.
LAAR: How do you select which artists you show? Do you accept submissions?
JAUS: We generally do not accept open submissions, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from sending us proposals. We have six shows a year. All but one have been group exhibitions. Two a year are curated in-house. With the other four exhibitions I have asked outside curators, or more often they ask me. I find the curators from personal ties or through recommendation. They make all decisions regarding which artists to show. I’ve shown one artist so far from an unsolicited submission: an Italian artist, Davide Zucco. He was a splendid artist and great to work with!
JAUS gallery is located at 11851 La Grange Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90025
and is open by appointment only. For more information please visit their website at www.jausart.com, contact them at by phone at 424.248.0781 , or email them at email@example.com.
8/31 INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE GRABNER AND BRAD KILLAM OF THE SUBURBAN
-by Regan Golden
Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam of The Suburban in Chicago (photo courtesy of Grabner and Killam)
The Suburban is located at the end of the 66 bus route that runs straight west from the old water tower at the center of downtown Chicago. The gallery consists of two small, sturdy whitecube spaces in the backyard of artists, Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam. The gallery is described by artist and writer, David Robbins as an “avant-garde gallery in a suburban garage in the Midwest.“ Grabner’s own studio is located above the main space. A little patch of green grass separates Michelle and Brad’s home from the gallery and the studio. This close proximity between spaces is indicative of artists’ practices as a whole in which artmaking, writing, and curating is part and parcel of everyday life.
LAAR: Please tell us a bit about the history of The Suburban. How did you hatch the idea to transform your garage into a gallery?
Michelle Grabner (MG): My husband Brad Killam and I, along with our two kids, moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Oak Park, Illinois in 1997. Milwaukee was a great incubator for us as young artists and parents. We were actively curating, writing and maintaining our studios there. In our travels and research, we became familiar with spaces like Matt’s Gallery in London and Tom Solomon’s Garage in Los Angeles. The idea of making a space in proximity to our home seemed like a fluid continuation of our interests. Additional motivation came from our dear friend, the artist David Robbins who has dedicated his life to the contemporary imagination and the idea of the American suburb.
The Suburban exterior with Ethan Breckenridge (window grate) and Lars Breuer (wall painting), Winter 2010 (photo courtesy of Grabner and Killam).
LAAR: As artists, how does having a gallery in your backyard influence your practice? Does the work in the gallery ever inform, or challenge your own thinking as artists?
MG: Indeed, it shapes how I negotiate the vast sphere of contemporary art. We come to know artists and their practice in a familial context, a context not revealed nor valued within the forces of a supply and demand economy. But to your question: The Suburban and its social and critical framework allows my studio to be shaped differently, a non-social space where I happily toil away in isolation.
Brad Killam (BK): I too toil away in isolation, and I love it. The work I do at Suburban is important: I serve other artists and their ideas. This is a contribution that helps on a larger scale within contemporary art and its dissemination. Occasionally, an artist who shows at The Suburban influences what I do in the studio. I’m reminded, for example, of a conversation I had with Katharina Grosse about landscape painting.
LAAR: Your mission statement describes the gallery as “pro artist and anti curator” in that The Suburban functions as a kind of project space for artists who ultimately decide which works to show and how to display them. How do you decide which artists you will invite to exhibit in the gallery?
MG: Over the years we have developed a nearly ‘found’ way of selection. Because we have a “policy” not to show Chicago-based artists, we instead follow a line of artist recommendations. I see the selection process as more akin to scheduling than curating.
BK: The most obvious one for me is when I get excited about an artist’s work and think they would be a good fit.
Ethan Breckenridge (2010). (Photo courtesy of Grabner and Killam).
LAAR: How does the unusual location and intimate scale of The Suburban influence the artists that show there?
MG: Sometimes not at all, like when work comes shipped from a gallery in Chelsea. But most of the time the artist will, to some degree, contend with The Suburban context and the gallery’s proximity to our home. For example, several artists (Andrea Zittel’s Smock Shop, Joseph Grigley, Ethan Greenbaum and Colleen Asper) have chosen to show in our house instead of the galleries. I think the most interesting consideration artists broker is the public/private one.
LAAR: What is currently on display at The Suburban? What projects are in the works?
MG+BK: Currently we have two projects: Gabe Farrar and Siebren Versteeg, two artists who run Regina Rex, a terrific artist-run gallery in the neighborhood of Queens, NY. Next, we have a project with artist Kelly Poe and activist Maria Mason, who is spending 22 years in prison for eco-sabotage. We will end the year with a project by Lucie Fontaine followed by the New York artists Nikolas Gambaroff + Lisa Jo.
LAAR: What can Los Angeles look forward to seeing from The Suburban in the Co/Lab fair this fall?
MG+BK: Stephen Berens and Elizabeth Bryant have free run of the Suburban’s Co/Lab space. We’ll see when we get there and that’s the way we like it.
Jim Welling and Walead Beshty (2009). (Photo courtesy of Grabner and Killam).
LAAR: How would you describe the importance of artist-run and alternative spaces, especially those off the beaten path?
MG: It has always seemed to me that artist-run spaces emphasize the importance of artists and their ideas. Commercial and institutional models of exhibition are tied to economic structures that emphasize branding and inventory. And most non-profits are a tangle of bureaucracy.
LAAR: Can you tell us a bit about the Poor Farm? Did the idea of the Poor Farm evolve out of your experience with The Suburban?
MG+BK: The Poor Farm is a logical progression for us. It inverts the structure of The Suburban while maintaining the same philosophical underpinnings. Exhibitions last a full year at the Poor Farm and it is located in rural Northeastern Wisconsin. As we hit middle age and mid-career status, a place in the country made sense for us. But like everything we do, we keep artists and art close.
Author Bio: Regan Golden is an artist and writer based in Chicago, IL. Golden is a frequent contributor to ARTPulse and Newcity, and co-founder of the collaborative, Drawn Lots.
7/20: INTERVIEW WITH PS PROJECTS
-by Aili Schmeltz
Jan van der Ploeg of PS Projectspace, Amsterdam
LAAR: Please tell us about yourselves- who is involved in PS Projects, your background, when you opened your space, the main ideas behind your space, etc.
PS: PS projectspace aims to provide a platform for the work of upcoming international artists in an environment that exists between the conventions of an artist-run space and a commercial gallery.
PS stands for Post Scriptum, Project Space, Public Space or Private Space and wants to add another formula to the already existing ways of presenting art.
It is an initiative of the artist Jan van der Ploeg and his partner Karin Straathof who is an art historian.
It started on the 4th of January in 1999 in the living room of their home in the city centre of Amsterdam with the exhibition ‘EPW:ORANGE’ of Australian artist John Nixon. People could come and see the exhibitions on the first Sunday afternoon of the month and by appointment.
After 12 years of having organized the exhibitions at home, the project space last year moved to the studio building of Jan van der Ploeg at the Madurastraat 72, in Amsterdam-East. Since then, Cindy Moorman joined as gallery assistant and the exhibitions are now more frequently open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Clemens Hollerer at PS Projectspace
LAAR: What is your curatorial process? How do you find artists? Do you take submissions from artists?
PS: By the time Jan van der Ploeg and Karin Straathof started PS, they more and more started to travel abroad for the exhibitions of Jan’s work.
On the way they would get in contact with artists to whom they felt connected with. They would invite the artist to come and visit in Amsterdam and to bring a few works that they would show in their living room and thereby introducing the artist and his or her work to friends and colleagues in Amsterdam and The Netherlands. In the first years they only showed the work of non-Dutch, international artists. Later on they also started to include the work of local artists. Our curatorial process hasn’t changed much since the beginning.
Gerold Miller at PS Projectspace
LAAR: What are you currently working on? What projects are you developing?
PS: We just got to the end of our first year in the new space and we are about to open the exhibition ‘Land of the Seven Moles’, in which we will show a work by each of the 7 artists we have been working with this year. The group exhibition will run throughout the whole Summer and includes the works of Frank Ammerlaan (NL), Piet Dieleman (NL), Ruth Campau (DK), Pieter Bijwaard (NL), Clemens Hollerer (A), Michelle Grabner (US) and Gerold Miller (D).
For next year we have exhibitions planned by Rohan Wealleans (NZ), Marius Lut (NL), Terry Haggerty (UK/D), Dane Mitchell (NZ), Julian Dashper (NZ), Donald Judd (US), Ronald de Bloeme (NL) and DJ Simpson (UK).
Piet Dieleman at PS Projectspace
LAAR: Where do your inspirations and ideas come from for curatorial projects? How does that idea develop?
The selection of the artists we invite to exhibit at PS projectspace is always very personal and close to our own interest and our own work. Our focus is on abstract art, but this doesn’t mean we exclude other forms of art. Over the years we showed painting, sculpture and mixed media. Sometimes we invite other people to curate a show for us or we exchange exhibitions with other international spaces.
Michelle Grabner at PS Projectspace
LAAR: Do you also curate projects outside of your space?
PS: Through the years PS has been invited to curate exhibitions for other spaces, galleries and institutions inside the Netherlands and abroad.
Before Jan van der Ploeg started PS projectspace he organized the exhibition program for Galerie IJburg in the Vrieshuis Amerika in Amsterdam, Galerie Stadt München in the Winston Hotel in Amsterdam, Showcase.NL in a windowspace in the red light district in Amsterdam and the traveling exhibition projects UND and Star Projects.
Ruth Campau at PS Projectspace
LAAR: Please talk a little bit about your views of the climate of the artist run and alternative space scene in Europe in general and Amsterdam in specific. Do you see any interesting trends developing there or internationally that are particularly interesting? Where do you see PS Projectspace fitting into this?
PS: In Amsterdam there’s a few very interesting art projects in the same part of town as where we are located. Namely P/////AKT and deSERVICEGARAGE. We advertise our program together and twice a year we organize a joint project. Since we started PS projectspace in 1999 we have been inspired and working together with other artists-run spaces abroad such as CCNOA (FR), Hebel_121(CH), Konsortium (D), Circuit (CH), HICA (GB), CBD Gallery (AUS), ROOM103 (NZ), The Suburban (US), RAID Projects (US) and MINUSSPACE (US).
Pieter Bijwaard at PS Projectspace
LAAR: What can Los Angeles look forward to seeing from you in the Co/lab fair this fall?
PS: For Co/lab we are preparing a groupshow of the seven artists we have been working with in this year. We will present a new wall poster by Piet Dieleman that will cover the walls of the booth, on which we will show smaller works by Frank Ammerlaan (NL), Piet Dieleman (NL), Ruth Campau (DK), Pieter Bijwaard (NL), Clemens Hollerer (A), Michelle Grabner (US) and Gerold Miller (D). Clemens Hollerer will design a site specific installation for the booth.
For more information about PS Projectspace - psprojectspace.nl
7/17: INTERVIEW WITH WEEKEND SPACE
-by Ellen Hermann
John Mills and Jay Erker of Weekend Space
LAAR: Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves? What are your artistic interests and inspirations?
W: We’ve been together for 18 years now as a couple. Because of the length of time we’ve been together, or perhaps because of who we are, we are of like mind in most things. We share similar attitudes and approaches to art. We prefer individuality better than trends or convention and favor attempts to try things differently because of the challenges it creates for both the maker and the viewer. We like challenges. And smart things. Witty things. Ugly things. Toilet humor. We are non-hierarchical. We like tangents. We are different in our use of materials. John’s an abstract painter, Jay works in multi-media and refuses to/can’t paint. The differences make it interesting.
Installation shot from Keith Walsh, “Stealth Space,” 2011 – Image courtesy of Weekend Gallery
LAAR: How would you describe your curatorial process? How do you develop your ideas?
W: We’ve been artists for a long time. We’ve been looking at art for a long time. We’ve developed our perspective from these experiences. We also like to talk a lot. Talking about the work you see and the work you make is very important. In choosing work to show at Weekend we look at different things but most importantly we look for intelligent work. We don’t like one liners or work that’s easy to digest. There has to be something underneath the surface and it has to be well-articulated in a manner appropriate for the work. We shy away from trends.
John Paul Villegas- Image courtesy of Weekend Gallery
LAAR: Your website says you are “dedicated to showing the work of under-represented and emerging contemporary artists.” How do you select which artists you show? Do you accept submissions?
W: We accepted submissions, but if you look on our website now, you will see that we don’t. We got so many and didn’t have time to look and respond to them all and then we felt guilty about it. To be completely honest, most of the submissions we received were not appropriate for our space. Having said that, we’re going to open up the submission process again because that’s what Weekend is about, opportunity. Regarding submitting to spaces in general, every artist who wants to submit their work to galleries and the like should read this blog by Edward Winkleman, if they haven’t already. It’s all in there. We also highly recommend that artists run a space for a while if they can or do curatorial work because you learn so much. It’s really quite profound.
LAAR: What are you working on currently? What are some upcoming exhibitions/projects?
W: Right now John is painting in the room behind the kitchen. Weekend has July off, so Jay took over the gallery and has covered the walls with her work. August brings Scott Greenwalt down from the Bay Area for what we’ve nicknamed his “death metal surrealism” painting show and there’ll be a performance by local metal band Barfth at the opening. September is local legend Phyllis Green with her sculptures coupled with a video/installation artist who is yet to be named. October is the worldly and debonair Carlson Hatton whose drawings and paintings are exquisite. November is a group show with the inimitable Paul Evans (painting), the lovely Sophia Allison (sculpture/installation) and the just plain cool Kim Tucker (ceramicist). We like working with good people. Good people all. Just mentioning them all makes us happy and excited, both.
Matt Timmons performance – Image courtesy of Weekend Gallery
LAAR: What do you plan to show in the Co/Lab fair? How does this relate to your previous exhibitions and projects?
W: We don’t know what we’re going to show. We always want to make some kind of impression, though we don’t know how it will happen at the moment. It’s organic. It will come in time. Co/Lab is an opportunity for our space and the artists we work with to have a wider audience. At last year’s Co/Lab we connected a collector in Miami with an emerging artist from St. Louis. That’s a pretty great opportunity. It’s not any different than any show we put on at our space, really. We just try to do the best we can all the time.
LAAR: How do you feel Weekend fits into the Los Angeles arts scene? What is unique about Weekend?
W: Weekend fits perfectly in Los Angeles. Any alternative space would. They’re always needed and are a necessary counterpoint to commercial spaces. There will always be an audience because as long as the art schools are around, there will always be artists wanting to show their work and people who want to see it.
Weekend store front at 4634 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
LAAR: Is there anything else about Weekend that you feel people should know?
W: We have day jobs. Donations welcome.
Find out more about Weekend Space on their website – weekendspace.org
6/22: STUDIO VISIT WITH ACTUAL SIZE
-by Aili Schmeltz
Actual Size Directors and Founders Corrie Siegel, Justin John Greene, Lee Foley and Samia Mirza at opening for You Oughta be In Pictures
LAAR: Please give us a brief backstory and history of who you are, how you were established, the space that you work with and your mission. Whats a great story behind how you met/ got the space/ formed your collective/ organized etc.?
AS: Our names are Lee Foley, Justin John Greene, Samia Mirza and Corrie Siegel. Before we decided to start this project we knew each other through talking about the art we were making or what we had seen. Many of us studied together in school, or worked together. When we saw each other at openings, work, or friends’ houses we would discuss openings, shows, galleries and artists that we admired. We were interested in exploring what our peers were doing and how they presented their work. When we talked to each other, sometimes we would imagine different alternatives to the exhibit we had seen, or how a friend’s work might be transferred to a gallery context- it was pretty hypothetical. Then Lee found a space, we had a meeting and decided the next week to open a gallery. By the end of the month we put our first show up.
We thought it would be fun to explore what it means to displace an object or an idea in a gallery, to explore how relationships shift within and outside of the space. We wanted to be playful with the idea of what a gallery is, and in some way create something that was accessible to a range of artists and viewers. The goal was to do something that was intellectually rigorous and engaging to us as artists, but that would also serve as a dynamic resource and exhibition space.
Actual Size Los Angeles storefront at 741 New High Street in Chinatown
LAAR: Please describe your curatorial process as a group. How do you choose artists? How do you generate and develop your ideas? Do you help the artists that you work with develop their ideas? Do the ideas come from your interests or are they more often culled from artists trends and expanded upon? How do your individual art practices feed into or influence this process?
AS: Collaboration is the most important part of our gallery. We have very involved group meetings and shared documents where we discuss every small element of an exhibition. There is a lot of brainstorming and discussion and eventually we reach consensus. Part of our mission with Actual Size is to push this tiny space in as many directions as possible, to challenge the viewer’s expectations of an art gallery, and continually redefine our role and presence in the community. We want to keep the programming unpredictable, in a way that is not only engaging to the viewer but is stimulating and rewarding to our own art (studio) practices. As artists we use the gallery as sort of conceptual raw material.
LAAR: What, if any, particularly exciting trends so you see right now with both curators and artists, and if you can speak to it, ideas of trends in Los Angeles compared to national/international scenes?
AS: Overall there is a blurring of the boundaries between categories. We do not have to make distinctions between artist, curator, gallerist, and educator. An experience or event also does not have to be just an opening, party, or performance. There is a lot of freedom with the loosening of these terms and it’s a very engaging and exciting time to be a part of the creative community. This flexible process requires us to focus on specifics of programming for each individual event so that the viewer is able to understand an event or experience on many levels.
Crowd outside of Actual Size Los Angeles for Please Remember Everything
LAAR: What role or niche do you see yourselves filling in the alternative art space climate of Los Angeles? What makes you unique?
AS: We are really fortunate to be a part of such a flourishing alternative art space center. Each space or collective presents interesting distinctive projects as well as unique approaches. Our colleagues inspire us to experiment in order to find new ways of presenting work that is accessible at multiple points. We attempt to cultivate within the structure of Actual Size a mix of casual and sometimes absurd programing with formal exhibitions.
Installation shot, Angle of Incidence, Work by Larry Fink, Alex Prager and J. Patrick Walsh III
LAAR: One aspect of Actual Size that has been exciting to us, is how you encourage artists, in your words, ‘to take risks and to expand on traditional concepts of the exhibition. We attempt to activate the space through events that involve different audiences and invite viewers into the culture of the artist’s work.’ Can you talk a bit more about this idea of the culture of the artist work and expanding concepts of exhibition in the context of how Actual Size participates in the projects, the community Actual Size serves, and how Actual Size may transform its space (conceptually and physically)?
Initially when we started the space we talked about how we would prefer to visit a friend’s studio, rather than go to a gallery opening. We wanted to give artists the opportunity to expand the scope of their exhibitions beyond the opening event and explore possibilities of exposing the work to different audiences through altering the physical environment or relationships to the work. For one closing event, Katie Herzog hosted Une Alphabétisation Autre, in which the artist invited two therapy dogs to the gallery so that visitors could read to them. We also hosted a 12 hour collaborative song, held an arm wrestling championship, produced several two-part exhibitions, and publications. We like to play with the limitations of the gallery exhibition in order to bring out the dynamic qualities of the works shown at Actual Size.
The winning pin at The Hook, Arm Wrestling Championship
LAAR: From (An interview with Hailey Loman at San Francisco Arts Quarterly)- ‘We demand a lot of integrity from the artists that we are involved with. The four of us have different sensibilities in our work, so we are looking for something that we can appreciate and all stand behind. It’s a collaboration amongst us and with the other artist. We try our best to get them to present their visions in a way that they are really proud of.’ – That being said, can you talk about the collaboration of Actual Size and the artist that you work with, how involved are you in their process? Is there a critique/feedback understanding in between you and the artists? How does this speak to the ever changing and fluid roles of space/curator/artist/collaborator?
AS: We select artists that we think will make interesting work, and also be fun and engaging to collaborate with. We do our best to convey the collaborating artist’s or curator’s vision, so we will make suggestions and provide our own insight when we feel that we can contribute to a more full understanding of the artist’s intent. We want to exhibit work in a clear and engaging way and come up with creative approaches to access and display the work. Overall, our main goal is to trust the artists and their visions. This often involves lots of talking and hanging out in the gallery or studio as the exhibition develops. We see the gallery as a curatorial experiment in itself. One of the most rewarding aspects of the project is the way each show is encourages new processes of negotiation with space, objects, people and ideas.
Installation shot, Negotiation of Objects work by Sean Kennedy, Natalie Labriola and Kenneth Tam
LAAR: What are you working on currently? What are some upcoming exhibitions/projects?
AS: We are developing a few collaborative projects with nearby art spaces, a lecture series, and a large scale party and night of performance.
Find out more about Actual Size on their website at- actualsizela.com
6/15 STUDIO VISIT WITH MONTE VISTA PROJECTS
-by Aili Schmeltz
Collaborative drawing done by members of Monte Vista Projects, a visual history showing highlights of the last 5 years, described by Monte Vista as being ‘like a board game, each number corresponds to an event that happened here, showing the founding members as their various characters.’
Introducing Monte Vista Projects, a cooperative project space located in Highland Park. Los Angeles Art Resource had a chance to visit the space and have a chat with Monte Vista Projects, who also will be participating in the upcoming Co/lab Art Fair this fall.
LAAR: Please tell us about yourselves- who is involved in Monte Vista, your backgrounds, how you met, when you opened your space, the main ideas behind your space, etc.
MV: We are a cooperatively run gallery, originally formed with 7 members in 2007 as a place to show unrepresented artists that had interesting projects. Originally this space was all studios, the gallery space was a studio. Over time people would drop out, other members would become nominated, people were asked to fill in their spots, it keeps it affordable for all of us. There are studios in the back of the space, that are almost always filled with members, that way it’s convenient and we can be here more often. The gallery space was also built out by members, it wasn’t always this refined.. [laughing]. We are lucky that we have a nice mix of members from different locations and backgrounds. We are all artists, although we have had writers and curators too that have been members. We all have practices in addition so we are generous with the responsibilities and one anothers time. We each gallery sit one day a month, and with 7 members that spreads the work around. No one gets burdened too much with too many responsibilities. It runs so incredibly smoothly, everything has been figured out, it’s very collaborative and seamless — that is why the space has been able to continue for so long. The structure is efficient and affordable and allows us to have our jobs and do our own things. It’s a great way to be involved and feel active, it’s a very healthy community.
Monte Vista Projects, showing current show, Pop-Up Library: The Collectors
LAAR: What is your curatorial process? How do you find artists? Do you take submissions from artists?
MV: We take submissions, usually they come in via email, usually what we do is take turns by having a point person for each show, sometimes two. Ideally you are interested and involved in that show, it is your major pick, but we have to agree on the project. There can’t be anyone that is against the project, although we are all very flexible. We have a meeting every couple of months and decide on future projects or discuss issues with the gallery. We also invite people we are particularly interested in as a group. Although we do take submissions, typically random submissions are not always successful, just because they don’t always fit in with what we are doing. We will also ask artists that we are interested in to submit ideas to the group with a written proposal, then we all agree upon it. What a lot of artists don’t take into account is what the space does, they need to do the research like you would for a job, and not approach a space like a mass mailing. There should be something in particular that attracts the artist to our space, that it feels good.
LAAR: What are you currently working on? What projects are you developing?
MV: Coming up next is a couple from Canada that makes dioramic murals revolving around social politics, activist type murals. They are pretty conceptual but beautiful at the same time. There is also a video show from New Zealand coming up, it’s interesting that this summer will be mainly work from International artists. Upcoming is also is a project called the Reanimation Library out of Brooklyn, a collection of discarded books from libraries and friends, he invites artists to use the books to make work.
Reanimation Library project, Brooklyn NY, from web site- reanimationlibrary.org
LAAR: Speaking of community, can you speak to this neighborhood of Highland Park, the reason for choosing this area of LA? Is there a lot of interaction with the neighborhood?
MV: Really, it was practical, the space was open. Highland Park has a lot of local artists, the neighborhood is curious.The space grew out of being a affordable studio space, then transitioned into a gallery space, it is a logical model, the artists working here are from this community that were already here. Its not built in with interaction with the community in mind. The neighborhood is in transition. The work that we do here definitely has its audience, but its not the actual surrounding community, except for other artists gentrifying the neighborhood. That being said, we are not opposed to the idea of working with the community. It’s a unique problem, it is much more difficult to engage them, especially with conceptually based work, it would be incredibly difficult if not dangerous for us. We are here because we are not fitting into the typical gallery structure, and as an alternate, we are a privileged minority structure. Its a weird situation that we find incredibly interesting actually. We all feel a bit of guilt and fear, it’s kind of hidden, we don’t talk about too much. I’m really interested in this question.
LAAR: Where do your inspirations and ideas come from for curatorial projects? How does that idea develop?
MV: As the members change, the vision adapts, based on the members interests. Everyone feels satisfied and gets to do a show with the type of work they are interested in. Its evolving and honest to what the individuals are truly interested in. In allowing that to happen you are automatically going to have a multidimensional type of vision that alters with new members, like a life form.
LAAR: Do you also curate projects outside of your space?
MV: We participate in a lot of group shows that include collectives, in the past in chinatown for example. We mainly concentrate on this space.
LAAR: Please talk a little bit about your views of the climate of the artist run and alternative space scene in Los Angeles. Do you see any interesting trends developing here or internationally that are particularly interesting? Where do you see Monte Vista fitting into this?
MV: The alternative run spaces are popping up everywhere.. artists that are coming straight out of grad school are going for on board agency. When I got out of school, I couldn’t get a show to save my life. For me the first space that I opened worked with artists and friends that were making interesting work. There are not enough commercial spaces to support all of the artists, no matter how many alternative and artist run spaces exist, it’s empowering to construct your own environment to support yourself and your friends and the people who do work that you are interested in, everyone I knew was making really interesting work and didn’t have a place to show it.. it helps to keep artists making work and feeling like they are a part of something, like they have some control of power and that they are not just waiting, because you know as artists we just wait. Waiting for someone to pay attention, to decide that we are good, its un fulfilling even if you are lucky enough to be a chosen one, it won’t keep happening again and again, and if it does, if you are lucky enough to be that person, it usually never totally fulfills you either because its not exact the way you what want or perhaps there’s too many simulations of your work or how you do your work, or whatever. So if you construct your own sort of art world you can construct whatever makes you comfortable. The alternative is to most people is to disappear, which is really sad.
LAAR: So, in terms of Los Angeles..Where do you see Monte Vista fitting in or growing into, what is its spot?
MV: As far as growing, there is more interest as a collective to show and do more exchanges out of the country, that’s something we have discussed and are all interested in. The comparison is not very useful actually, every place is important and does not have to be unique. The unique factor does not correspond to its use value. If its valuable and useful does it really make a difference? We have so many members, its constantly changing, we don’t have a predefined mission which a lot of spaces do. Instead of bringing us all together, it divides and separates.
LAAR: What can Los Angeles look forward to seeing from you in the Co/lab fair this fall?
MV: We don’t know yet, we have been talking about doing another collaborative drawing, but we’re not sure.
Ida Rödén, The Cellar in the Attic, 2012. from Monte Vista web site of current exhibition, Pop-Up Library: The Collectors
The current show at Monte Vista Projects, Pop-Up Library: The Collectors, Curated by Danielle Sommer runs until July 1.
For more information about Monte Vista Projects, visit their website – montevistaprojects.com
6/8: INTERVIEW WITH YAUTEPEC GALLERY, MEXICO CITY
-by Danielle McCullough
Brett Schultz & Daniela Elbahara of Yautepec Gallery
LAAR: Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves (brief bios)?
Daniela Elbahara: I was born in Monterrey, Mexico. Growing up, I went to the American School there and then went on to major in Social Communications at university. I worked at MARCO, the contemporary art museum in Monterrey, for a while. I ended up in NYC when a Fulbright Scholarship gave me the opportunity to do my MA in Media Studies at the New School.
Brett Schultz: I was born and raised in Chicago and then lived in Los Angeles and New York each for a while before I moved to Mexico City with Daniela in 2007, a couple years after we met in New York. I had studied International Relations at USC in Los Angeles and then, for graduate school, I went to the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. It’s part of the Tisch School of the Arts but it’s an oddball program that’s a mix of art and technology — new media, I suppose.
DE: We had met at a Gavin Brown party back in 2005. It was the launch for Nuevos Ricos, which was a record label run by the Mexican artist Carlos Amorales. I think neither of us at the time realized how much closer we’d end up to that particular world.
LAAR: When you started Yautepec in 2008, the project was stationed in an abandoned house in Mexico City. Did you have to pay rent or are there squatters’ rights? Are there similar projects in Mexico City or elsewhere that inspired you, did you participate in a community of artists overtaking derelict properties?
DE: We didn’t have to pay rent, since it was our friend’s property that was abandoned.
BS: Yeah, we were lucky. Basically, our friend’s family had a house that they used to use as offices and food preparation facilities for their chain of taco restaurants.
DE: But they hadn’t used it for probably ten years, so it was pretty run-down. But it was in a great location and our friend was interested to organize some exhibitions there, so she asked us to get involved. The first one we did was a collaboration with another local gallery that helped us to fix up the place a bit. Then we continued on from there with group shows and solo shows and just kept going.
BS: It was kind of a dream opportunity really, but it also took a lot of work. But it was fun work.
DE: In terms of similar projects, in the 90s and early 00s, there were important artist-run spaces in Mexico City like La Panadería and Temístocles 44. But at the time we got started, there wasn’t really anything like that happening. Now there are more spaces like that starting to emerge again, like Neter — which is really active — and others that just pop up and disappear.
LAAR: How did starting out in such a space affect your curatorial approach, or did you have certain predilections that drew you towards claiming such a space?
DE: Well, we realized quickly that a 25 year-old artist didn’t necessarily need a retrospective of his or her work. But that was kind of the impulse with the space, just to fill it. There were a lot of tiny rooms in that house and at first we felt like we should use all of them! In terms of our predilections toward that kind of space, well, it was in the Condesa neighborhood which was really desirable at that time and a lot of the people in the Mexico City art world lived there or in an adjacent neighborhood called Roma, so it was very convenient. But really, the most interesting thing was that it was rent-free, obviously!
BS: Yeah, I think we both really got into the idea of letting the artists go crazy in the space, since it had so many peculiarities. There were probably some unnecessary elements in a few of the shows as a result, but that was also just the attitude of the project at the time.
DE: Our curatorial approach was always very artist-oriented, we let them make the proposals and then helped to refine things from there.
LAAR: Could you tell us a little bit about your politics and gravitation towards politically challenging art? There seems to be an anarchist thread (which we realize, by its nature is a tenuous one) running through your catalog of exhibitions . . .
DE: Most of our artists belong to generations that grew up with information overload and several of them actually studied media rather than fine art. So I think the resulting concern is more about making art within certain social or political contexts. And there’s certainly a lot to talk about here in Mexico.
BS: Yeah, neither Daniela nor I have really formal backgrounds in art either, so I think we respond to work that addresses ideas or sentiments that are of broader scope or maybe just more visceral.
DE: As far as anarchism goes, I suppose it’s a popular reference among our artists because it gives them the ability to express a certain kind of discontent through their work and present the sometimes tempting possibility of no order at all. Destroy to create. Create to destroy.
BS: Yeah, and it’s also rooted in our respective backgrounds in DIY music culture. I think that attitude runs pretty deep at Yautepec. We have powerful inner teenagers who really don’t give a fuck. Daniela and I are both very much outsiders to this city and to the art world, but I think we came to it with something unique to offer.
LAAR: Could you talk a little bit more about your DIY music backgrounds and various projects you’ve been involved with in that arena?
BS: I’ve been playing in bands forever and have always preferred that scrappy, heartfelt side of the music scene. In Chicago, I’d always go to shows at the Fireside Bowl and countless random punk houses, and then, in LA, I’d go to The Smell all the time — even back when it was in North Hollywood, I’m old — and the PCH Club down in lovely industrial Wilmington, places like that. In Brooklyn, I love spaces like Secret Project Robot, Death by Audio, and Shea Stadium.
I’m still very active in the underground music scene here in Mexico City. I really try to support independent culture and there’s a lot of great music happening here, finally. At the gallery, we’ve got an event series called Closed Curtain Nights where we do intimate little shows inside the space.
But yeah, I think as I was growing up and seeing people do so much just for the sake of doing something they loved and cared about without making money one’s primary concern … That really, really ingrained itself in my personal philosophy. It’s hard for me to imagine living my life any other way. I suppose I’m a romantic like that.
DE: I wouldn’t say I was so actively a part of the DIY music scene in Monterrey but all my friends were involved: bands like Kinky, Jumbo, Control Machete, Toy Selectah, El Gran Silencio, Plastilina Mosh, Zurdok. They were called “La Avanzada Regia.” Although my first real job was at a radio station where my friend and I had a daily show from 10PM to 12AM where we talked about art, film, and design and we’d play all those bands.
LAAR: What was it like to transition to a commercial gallery model, and more permanent gallery space in 2009? What were some of the benefits and challenges to making this transition?
BS: Honestly, the transition was very, very difficult. We’re still in it. Neither of us is really a natural salesperson. So, yeah, paying rent is painful some months. But at the same time, we’re not relying on the government or other organizations for our continued existence; we’re relying on ourselves and our own hard work and I think that’s healthy for us.
Can you talk about some of the strategies that you’ve used to pay the bills when a lot of the works are nonsaleable items?
DE: For me, it’s called a DAY JOB.
BS: Yeah, we’ve always worked either full-time or part-time on other gigs to pay the bills when sales don’t (or can’t) float the boat. It’s difficult though; the gallery now really requires a full-time effort, so there’s a certain amount of personal financial suffering involved — and not just for the non-saleable shows. Selling work isn’t easy even when the works are technically saleable.
I’m personally curious about how you got a collector to agree to have two artists’ faces tattooed on her ass [term used in the official project description] Was that a commercial exchange, or a volunteer endeavor on both ends?
BS: Hahaha,well, we’re not at liberty to talk about the means to that, uh, end. Just to clarify, the faces that were tattooed on her ass were those of narco assassins, who themselves had tattooed their faces while in prison. But in terms of the nature of the agreement with the collector, we’ve sworn to the artist, Sumugan Sivanesan, that we’ll take the secret with us to our graves.
LAAR: Are you interested in doing more curatorial exchanges with other artist-run spaces as you did with Brooklyn based Live with Animals? Do you have an open submissions policy, and if so how would artists and curators submit work for your review?
DE: We do have an open submission policy but our major constraint is just that we now do just five or six shows a year and we have commitments to our represented artists to give them solo shows every couple of years. So we’re maybe not as open as we’d ideally like to be, like if we had multiple spaces or even just a bigger space that we could divide up.
BS: Yeah, we still try though. Last year we did a great summer group show that was curated by Gerardo Contreras who runs Preteen Gallery that’s also in our current neighborhood, San Rafael. Right now though, our real focus is on solo shows for emerging Mexican and international artists.
LAAR: Could you tell us about some of the upcoming exhibitions and events at Yautepec, as well as a preview of what we can expect from your exhibition at Co/Lab?
DE: This is our LA summer and fall, actually! We’ve got shows by Sergio Bromberg and Ryan Perez coming up as well as Annie Lapin in September, all artists that live and work in LA. We’re really excited about bridging LA and Mexico City more closely together — they make for a good combination — and what we show tends to be well-received there.
BS: Yeah, and for Co/Lab, I think we’ll just try to have fun with it. That’s the beauty of a fair like that, since we don’t really have to worry about making back the cost of a booth. Our plan is to work with a few LA artists and ideally bring up a few surprises from Mexico City as well. It’ll be a good taste of what we do, regardless.
LAAR: Could you send links to some projects or works which you’d like to share with our readers?
DE: I’ve got a blog (www.laelbahara.blogspot.com) that I use to review shows, publish images, or short stories. I’m actually working on a fictional short story book at the moment as well and I work in an innovation and strategy think tank for the phone company. A very interesting net-art related project is about to hatch from that.
For more information on Yautepec Gallery visit their website – yau.com.mx
6/1: INTERVIEW WITH KATHLEEN KIM OF HUMAN RESOURCES,
LOS ANGELES WITH REVIEW OF “BREAKING AND ENTERING”
-by Ofelia del Corazon
I went to Human Resources’s beautiful Chinatown location where I had the pleasure of meeting with gallery co-founder, curator and noise artist Kathleen Kim. It was closing night of Kestrel Burley and Arjuna Neuman’s show “Breaking And Entering” and the space was bustling with pre performance activity. Kathleen and I ducked into the air conditioned sanctuary of the pho restaurant next door and sat down to chat about the birth of HR, the rewards and challenges of running a not-for-profit gallery space and how the curators of Human Resources are engaging their local community and making conceptual and experimental art accessible.
When did you start Human Resources, who was involved and what motivated you to open the space?
We started HR in the spring of 2010. Our friend Francois Ghebaly, who owned a gallery on Bernard Street, approached my brother, Eric Kim about the gallery next door to his, which was becoming vacant. That space used to be occupied by Parker Jones, and before him David Kordansky. Eric brought together me (Kathleen Kim) and our friends Dawn Kasper, Giles Miller and Devin McNulty. Dawn is an artist and performance artist (recently completing a several month residency at the Whitney Museum as part of the 2012 Whitney Biennial) and Devin, Giles and I are all musicians who played together in an experimental chamber ensemble called LA Fog. The five of us talked about utilizing that gallery to create an alternative art space that focused on performative art expression, whether through performance art, experimental music, theater or anything else non-static. We also hoped to create a cross-sectoral community where music, art, performance art, film and video could intersect, bringing new conversations and converging audiences.
Alan Tollefson: “Frozen Music/Pink Noise” at Human Resources
We recently added four new directors: Grant Capes, Jennifer Doyle, Chiara Giovando and Catherine Taft. All have rich experience in different facets of the art, performance and music worlds. They bring their experience and dynamic perspectives to keep HR exciting!
Could you tell us a little bit about your process of becoming a non-profit, and the various strategies you have employed to stay afloat?
From our inception we were designed as a non-profit with our founding members acting as the board. We pay for rent and expenses out of pocket and all of our operations and programming are completely volunteer run. We received formal 501(c)(3) tax exempt status just under a year ago. So we have the ability to accept tax deductible donations, but we are poor fundraisers so haven’t really utilized this tool yet. Over the next year, we will be trying to develop a fundraising strategy that is realistic and not so burdensome that it will take away from our engagement with programming.
Molly Larkey at Human Resources
Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with W.A.G.E?
WAGE is part of our extended community of artists and friends. HR’s inauguration was on May Day, International Labor Day, which was significant to us since we strive to have an awareness of how institutional power hierarchies can diminish creativity and self-determination. WAGE generously provided us with a video that we could play at our first May Day celebration to highlight the significance of Labor Day and to bring a social conscience to the space.
Part of your mission is about encouraging maximum community access. How are you working to realize that part of the mission?
We want to make conceptual art, performance art, experimental music, etc. accessible to broader audiences. We’d like to meld different facets of the art world and bring in non-traditional audiences and make it comfortable for them to engage with conceptual art forms. For example, this week, our friend, artist Mark Roeder, will work with his students at Johnnie Cochran Middle School to collaboratively install a show of their own work. These students and their families are not the typical gallery hopping crowd. It’s a big deal to them and really gratifying for us to have an opportunity to work with them at HR. In general though, as a collective, we want to maintain an open and welcoming ethos. We know our local neighbors in Chinatown, who often pop-in to see shows if they’re passing by or finishing a shift at Pho 87. We like that our community continues to grow and we want people to feel like if they come to HR they’ll see something new and interesting and also enjoy themselves.
Announcement from Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival Event, commissiond by the Getty and LAXART at Human Resources
We don’t really have a formalized approach. For Art LA Contemporary, I think we wanted to bring a representation of HR to the fair, so we programmed performers and musicians that we respect and support…Emily Lacy performed, my group Lady Noise also performed, and several others… The thing is at HR we have a lot of freedom to curate shows and performances and the end result is usually really good…there’s continuity with the event programs. But for the fair, we had to accommodate their logistics so there was some discontinuity with the program we had in mind. I think going forward we’ll have to be mindful of this, how to represent the activity that happens at HR within the confines of a commercial art fair, especially when we are a non-profit, not selling anything and are showcasing mostly performance.
“Your Own Best Secret Place” (new and recent works by the students of Johnnie Cochran middle school) opening reception takes place June 2nd from 3:00p-6:00p and runs until the 9th. If that isn’t your scene, be sure to check out the experimental industrial noise and sound art of psychedelic japanese rock band Suishou No Fune on June 4th or just click here to see what other treats HR has in store, and view some of their archived performances.
REVIEW OF “BREAKING AND ENTERING”
After my interview with Human Resources co-founder Kathleen Kim when we rushed back to the gallery to catch the closing night performance of Kestrel Burley and Arjuna Neuman’s collaboration Breaking And Entering. Neuman greeted me smiling from behind a hipster mustache and a sweating can of Tecate. “Please have a torch” said Neuman as he presented me with a miniature Maglite.
Neuman led me into the dimly lit gallery and introduced himself as the artist responsible for the visual component of the installation. More than a year ago filmmaker Kestrel Burley created an original text exploring themes of sex, gender, pornography, war, and the commodification of nature. Arjuna Neuman had been exploring similar themes in his recent work, My Marshall Islands, when Burley approached him about creating a visual response to her text.
The result of their collaboration was a multimedia environment comprised of found images, video and sculpture. In the darkened space of HR, dimly lit with footage of humming birds buzzing in a nuclear arms imaging experiment and a looming ten foot tall picnic bench often made me feel more like a conspirator than a passive observer.
Kestrel also drew upon her experience as a director of film to engage an entire production team of artists to develop works based on her text and conceived within the context of Arjuna’s multimedia landscape.
The performance, which was sometimes funny (“Are we making a porno?”), and sometimes serious (“What wall came tumbling down in 1989? The Wailing Wall. Yes. The Berlin Wall. Yes.”) oftentimes felt like a series of inside jokes I didn’t always get. I wished that Kestrel’s text had been available to guide me through the familiar but confusing world of grown up things.
While at times it seemed the piece resorted to the use of trite symbolism (performers tearing pages from self-help books, bright green AstroTurf and deliberately placed price tags) “Breaking And Entering” culminated in a beautiful repository of contemporary visual culture and captured the growing pains of a generation who has come of age in the shadow of war and American Apparel billboards.
-Interview and Review at Human Resources by Ofelia Del Corazon
5/29 INTERVIEW WITH ADAM BATEMAN, INTERIM DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL UTAH ART CENTER (CUAC)
-by Danielle McCullough
LAAR: Tell us about about yourself and about Ephraim, Utah
BATEMAN: I’m sculptor who was raised in Ephraim. [laughing] Anywhere else in the world they say Ephraim[with a short e] like you just said it, but ‘round here we call it Eefrum. That’s just how we say it in these parts. Ephraim is a really small town, there are not a lot of resources. We don’t really have art classes in school, and I was not required to read a novel until I was in college. In school, I studied English and minored in Spanish. I travelled quite a bit, especially in Latin America; I got really interested in post-colonial theory and other critical theory. I started making art as a junior in college, and wanted to apply critical theory to making art. Then I went to Pratt [and got my MFA in sculpture].
I have an upcoming show which is part of a group exhibition called Cantasorias at the UMOCA curated by Aaron Moulton. For the show I’m building a sculpture entirely out of stacked books that weighs over 60,000 lbs. it is 16’ 4” tall, 19’ 6” wide and 4’ deep.
Adam Bateman, From “A Dry Year,” photo courtesy of the artist
Adam Bateman, From “A Dry Year,” photo courtesy of the artist
Adam Bateman, photo courtesy of the artist
LAAR: How, when, and why did you develop the Central Utah Art Center?
BATEMAN: When I graduated, I got a studio in New York, right across the river in New Jersey. I was working jobs I didn’t care about and then a few things happened at once. A gallerist in Williamsburg scheduled a show for me and Kathleen Peterson, who was running CUAC at the time, contacted me. At that time it was a cooperative space for local landscape painters, it no longer had funding and it was going to close. She asked me if I wanted to run it, and I said ‘Can I do anything I want with it?.’ She said ‘Yes.’ So I took over and was the director for 3-1/2 years. Then I hired another director and became the chairman of the board, volunteering to do most of the curatorial work. Currently, I am the interim director while we get settled, since the last director moved on. While traveling in New York and Los Angeles I met a lot of great artists from Utah, and I started to think that if all these people were living in Utah, Utah would have a kickass art scene. Some artists from Utah include Paul McCarthy, Rebecca Campbell, Mike Kelley [An emerging UCLA painter who just has the same name as the more famous Los Angeles artist], Chris Coy, Ephraim Puusemp and Daniel Everett. I’m highly committed to growing the art community in Utah. To me that means identifying holes in the art ecosystem and trying to address them. I’m in Utah because I’m from here, my family is here, the mountains and desert are here. I pay $150 for a studio. Also, I can make a difference here. That’s why I’m running CUAC. That, and because at this stage in my art career, I have to have a side job; it might as well be one in the arts and one where I can make a difference. We’ve had a pretty significant impact on the art institutions in Utah. When we started, there was no contemporary art museum in Utah, and the Salt Lake Art Center curated late modernist shows. Now there’s the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and all the museums have contemporary art curators. It’s funny because CUAC is in Ephraim — this little town that has Snow College, but out in the middle of nowhere. It’s out there and that’s one of the things that people like about it. I’ve remained connected with a lot of the people in the art world in New York, and I started off [exhibiting work] by drawing on friends — now it’s gained momentum. We get Whitney Biennial artists by showing them a list of other artists who have shown here, and they usually say ‘Let’s do it [an exhibition] that sounds weird.”
Mariah Robertson at CUAC courtesy of CUAC website
Blake Carrington at CUAC, courtesy of CUAC website
Micol Hebron @ CUAC, courtesy of CUAC website
Installation shot of “Utah Ties,” a group exhibition of artists from Utah, curated by Max Presneill at CUAC, courtesy of CUAC website
LAAR: Were you inspired by other western state artist-run projects/communities, such as Donald Judd’s work in Marfa, or Andrea Zittel’s work in Joshua Tree? What are some of the benefits and challenges you have encountered while developing an art/life practice in an area that is remote from major art centers and capital?
BATEMAN: I didn’t make CUAC and Birch Creek BECAUSE of Marfa or A-Z West. Though I remain inspired by them and projects like CLUI as well. I did it because it was a door that opened and it seemed right, and continues to seem right. I’m fortunate to also be able to be connected through my personal art career in LA and NYC. It’s beneficial to have CUAC in Utah because I’m able to have influence in Utah–influence I wouldn’t have elsewhere. It’s difficult because most people who are connected with the contemporary art community tend to move to the coasts and it leaves those of us that remain feeling a little isolated. I really believe in community and like to consider the big picture issues. We don’t have a real art critic in Utah, more art journalism than art criticism and I would really like to help develop that frontier. Our other major problem is that the people in charge don’t know about contemporary art — administrators and money people, so we have no common ground that allows me to explain ‘Why’ and “What’ On one hand life is hard for artists, we are told to work as bartenders not curators–but I would rather get paid for working in the arts if I have to spend 40 hours a week doing something. I don’t make a lot of money, but I’m fortunate to sell some work sometimes, and I earn visiting artist speaking fees, writing fees, etc.
LAAR: Do you think that the struggle for finding common ground has something to do with political conservatism in the state of Utah?
BATEMAN: If it does, it’s because the directors of museums are liberal and they think they’re right. It’s a big mystery to me. They think “We have to be careful, our fundraisers will be upset, visitors will complain.” Ephraim is 95% Mormon and 100% Republican.
Bec Stupak, “Flaming Creatures (Blind Remake)” 2006
We showed the Bec Stupak remake of Flaming Creatures alongside Jack Smith’s original and that particular installation did not go over too well. City council raised concerns, I just assured them that it [Flaming Creatures] was probably one of the most important pieces we’ve shown, and I reminded them of the amount of money we’d brought into the town. Now one of the city council members goes to one of our events every single month, and says he’s “kind of sick of seeing landscape art.” One big thing that limits art in Utah is that people institutionally think that people will be offended — living in fear that is not founded on reality. Utah has created a great film industry, it has the Ririe Woodbury dance troupe — one of the top 20 contemporary dance troupes. Utah can do that with the visual arts.
pARTy Bus, Image courtesy of CUAC website
LAAR: You have been really great about engaging your local community, while also bringing in artists from outside of your immediate area to CUAC through creative means. Could you tell us a little bit about the Birch Creek Residency Program and the pARTy Bus?
The Birch Creek Residency is not officially part of CUAC but they are related. There is no funding, but people like it because there are no constraints here. It’s a free residency, we don’t give people money, but we don’t charge anything. Artists can come out and stay at the residency for a month or so, really explore an idea. They can come read, write, hike, and it’s a really laid back place to do what they need to do. We would like to dovetail the residency with the education program at CUAC, so that visiting artists can teach a class at CUAC — but that’s still in development. There is an ongoing call for entry and the vast majority of people are those who I have offered the space to. They just talk with me, send me links to their website, and if it makes sense we go forward with it.
[For more information on Birchcreek Residency, check out this post on LAAR from Friday 5/25]
pArty bus was inspired by the Funbus that drives people from Salt Lake City to Wendover to go gambling. It is a 75 seat bus, DJ’s curate a soundtrack for each ride, people pay 15 bucks, get a couple of beers and ride from Salt Lake to Ephraim for an event. During the ride they watch video art curated by Tyrone Davies, who tours the film festival circuit with a project called Free Form Film Festival. Drunk Salt Lakers arrive halfway through the openings and it’s great. We coordinate with local restaurants kick in for the party bus service in order to increase direct traffic to their business. They coordinate and provide live music across the street and a couple of hundred people get involved with these openings.
LAAR: You have a very varied work life, working as a professional artist, director of CUAC, the residency program, in addition to teaching I also read something about you directing a service ranch for young people. What are your current sources of employment? Also, could you tell us a little bit about your day to day life and how you manage these varied roles?
BATEMAN: I work too much. I am constantly torn between a desire to have a positive impact in the community and trying to make enough money to sustain myself on one hand and spreading myself too thin on the other hand. 6) CUAC has been very successful at writing grants to support its functions, in addition to acquiring local sponsorship. Could you share a little bit about some of your grant writing practices as well as some of your other strategies for sustainability? Being an effective money raiser is really straightforward. Identify who you’re asking, why they should care, explain your project really clearly, and tell them how they can help you to accomplish their vision. It seems so simple, but people mess this up all the time. I’ve been on grant panels where I’ve been like “Wait a second, what is your proposal” You’ve got to understand your program yourself, articulate why that donor should care and why they should want to give.
LAAR: What is going on at the art center right now — do you have any upcoming calls for entry, or open calls for proposals that you would like to encourage artists or curators to apply to?
BATEMAN: At CUAC, we have three solo exhibitions right now:
Robert Mellor, photo courtesy of CUAC
Feature, Robert Mellor
Exhibition Dates: April 27 – June 1, 2012
Robert Mellor is a painter who showed at Raid projects at one point. He now lives in Utah. His work has a highly graphic quality. He explores graphic space with tightly crafted stenciled forms that reference landscape and architecture.
Huginn Thor Arason, photo courtesy of CUAC
New Work from Huginn Thor Areson.
Areson is an Icelandic artist who made a sculptural installation that is a stage for collaborative drawings that take place weekly through the course of the exhibition and are drawn by graffiti artists and quilters.
Jared Steffensen, photo courtesy of CUAC
Mom’s Always Afraid That I’ll Hurt Myself and I Usually Do
Exhibition Dates: April 27 – June 1, 2012
Jared Steffensen is an artist with an international exhibition record who is based in Salt Lake City. This new body of work comprises of minimal sculpture based on skateboard culture.
All three exhibitions work with a painterly vocabulary, street art, architecture, and notions related to art historical trends in painting and sculpture. CUAC also sponsors a bi-monthly party in Salt Lake to introduce CUAC artist to the Salt Lake Community and show video art and experimental music in a pop-up venue. I have an upcoming show which is part of a group exhibition called Cantasorias at the UMOCA curated by Aaron Moulton. For the show I’m building a sculpture entirely out of stacked books that weighs over 60,000 lbs. it is 16’ 4” tall, 19’ 6” wide and 4’ deep. 8)What can we expect from your exhibition at Co-Lab? For the exhibition at Co-Lab I will be putting a group of artists together that actually live in Utah. The idea being to expose an LA audience to some good contemporary utah artists. I think there is a prejudice about what people expect from Utah. I hope that in this, their first experience with contemporary art from Utah, that people will be surprised by the relevance and quality of the art and will recognize themes they see globally, but with a decidedly Utah twist.
For more information about CUAC visit www.cuartcenter.org
For more information about Adam Bateman, visit hist site at: www.adambateman.com
CCA Project space at CUAC.
CUAC Main Building
5/18: INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLA BOEMIO
-by Danielle McCullough & Aili Schmeltz
Camilla Boemio is an Italian curator and critic who has co-founded Associazone Arte Contemporanea (AAC), one of the nonprofit curatorial projects participating in the upcoming Co/Lab art fair, September 27-30, 2012 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. She interested in land and biotech art and has curated numerous exhibitions throughout Italy and internationally — primarily featuring contemporary photo and film based works. She has recently curated Attitude Cinema, video art exhibition that focuses on California and international unpublished artists, opening June 19th at the Pesaro Film Festival. It is our pleasure to share our interview with Camilla. In addition to this interview, we would like to call your attention to an open call for video and photo work for an exhibition that Camilla is involved with, titled Hidden Cities & Hybrid Identities in Rome. That deadline is June 21, so be sure to check out that opportunity after you read the interview. Click here to see how you can apply for that call.
LAAR: Hello Camilla, Can you tell us a little bit about your background, where you are from, how you got interested in curation?
BOEMIO: Yes, absolutely. I was born in Italy. My family has English-German origins. The culture always was important: read books, see exhibitions in museums and know artists.
LAAR: You studied a variety of subjects in school, looking at your biography, your subject knowledge is broad, you studied art history and business, in addition to having an interest in science as part of your curatorial work.
BOEMIO: Yes, I graduated in Historical Art and Political Science [at the Sorbonne]. I have always found a personal line of studies. After I began to work in Rome, I became involved in an intellectual environment [of] cinema people, contemporary artists, etc.
LAAR:When and where did the AAC start up and who, other than yourself, was involved in getting it started?
BOEMIO:The AAC was born in 2007, the idea was to create a network to realize interesting international projects, group shows, talks and a new interaction with the University. The founders of the AAC are Fabrizio Orsini (an executive curator) and myself. I created it with my contacts and hard work. The AAC is an [interdisciplinary] project. We have many members: artists, intellectuals, architects, film makers, collectors, writers, and users of contemporary culture and contemporary art. The first project was realized in 2007 as a video art group show, in Rome, with the collaboration of a famous cinematic and television critic. We have always supported the young contemporary art.
One project was FOCUS ON ART #3, see the video link of the seaside exhibition – click here
l July 1. For more information about Monte Vista Projects, visit their website at – montevistaprojects.com
Image from Focus On Art #3 Courtesy of Camilla Boemio
The most recent project with AAC, in Italy, was Paris 2011 – a group show and a talk with artists and architects, a link with the information can be found here-
The next talk/exhibition will be the ‘Hidden Cities & Hybrid Identities in Rome.
LAAR: Does the AAC have a permanent space, or do you solely work within other spaces, such as Centro Arti Visive Pescheria, Torrance Art Museum, or various festivals and site specific venues –are you interested in having a permanent space, and if not, why?
Installation view, Cities: Visionary Places, curated by Camilla Boemio at Torrance Art Museum
BOEMIO: Sometimes I work only as a critic or curator, not [just] with the interaction of the AAC. I work with Politecnica University of the Marche, museums, non-profit spaces and galleries. At this part of my work, I like to be independent and create a really intellectual concept in my exhibitions. I work also in the University and I like creating a good connection with the study and the making of an exhibition. I like to write, read [about] and observe the work of artists. All [of the exhibitions] create a solid connection for giving a true idea of when we are living and which are the chances of the artistic languages. Now, in Italy, is not a great moment for museums. Read about the MAXII scandal [the museum currently faces government closure on account of an 800,000 euro budget deficit and forecasts of greater losses in the next three years.
[Read about it here]
To be a director of a museum in Italy, usually you are not a great curator but have a great ‘political saint.’ There is also Vittorio Sbarbi and his horror – the Italian Pavilion! [Referring to the Italian Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale]
LAAR: Can you talk about your curatorial process and project idea development? Where do you find and develop your ideas from? What is your process of choosing artists?
BOEMIO: It’s a long process. I must feel a concept, an idea . As a part of the project that I must write, read, and see the studios of artists — the connections are so important. It’s a puzzle, a patchwork .
LAAR: Does the initial idea usually come from personal interests? Contemporary discourse? Or perhaps from a trend you see developing from the artists?
BOEMIO: Yes, but also an idea of the moment. Which moment are we living in the contemporary art? We are a sonar, a period alone.
LAAR: That is a really interesting perspective to develop while living in Rome, “a period alone,” when you are situated on top of so many other periods..
BOEMIO: It is a time to deal with artists, intellectuals and critics.
LAAR: Do you usually seek out the artists for a project or put an idea for a show out there and have artists apply to you?
Both. In the ISWA European Project we realised some site-specific installations and created a platform to talk about Art – Science Projects. Sometimes I will see the work of an artist that is perfect for my concept. My vision is international.
Installation shot from inside the botanical garden as part of After the Crash
Making site specific work, or exhibitions in nontraditional places is also a way that California artists have democratized the exhibition process. Could you talk a little bit more about your work with ISWA?
The objective of ISWA is to stimulate students to create artistic initiatives which are able to demonstrate the commonalities of the artistic and scientific creative processes. At the same time, the works must transmit the scientific and/or technological content of what it is based upon. This aspect will be taken into consideration mainly and will be evaluated jointly by the members of the commissions which will be made of professional artists and scientists the latter with professional experiences in the science communication, the former with hints and unusual choices. The artists involved were: Justine Cooper, Wout Berger, Trevor Paglen, Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk, Klaus Thymann, Gino De Dominicis, Marek Kvetan and Richard Fajnor with Mr. Bra, Richard Fajnor, Francesco Patriarca, Donato Piccolo, Emmanuelle Villard ,Damir Ocko e Ravi Agarval. There was also a catalog with texts and images of Mariko Mori, Johanna Laitanen, Steve Siegel and Jaroslaw Kozakiewicz .
Per each discipline an artistic work will be realised by professional artists which will be based upon a scientific issue (a theory, a law, etc.) of relevant interest such as for instance, the stochastic processes or the relativity theory or, furthermore, the Darwin’s theory of evolution and so on. The artistic work will be conceived by the professional artists (e.g. professional directors in case of cinema) with the support of a scientist, i.e. professors, university researchers, scientific divulgators, etc., which will monitor for the effective capacity of the final work to simultaneously highlight the creative aspects as well as the underlying scientific, mathematical or technological principles.
LAAR: One biography we found stated that you live part- time in California. Is this still true?
BOEMIO: In the past, I have spent two months every year in California and travel around the US. A part of my family, my aunt and my cousins, live on the east Coast, they are American. My mother’s family have English origins, but the connection with United States was born with my grandfather. He was a conductor. He worked with Toscanini. They decided to leave Italy during the Fascist era. One of my objectives is create a solid bridge and a spend time in California for work.
LAAR: Did your interest in Earth Works and the work you did about Anna Nicole Smith draw you here or did you become interested once you came to California?
BOEMIO: The idea/concept of Aniconics Icon Killers, the exhibition about Anne Nicole Smith, was born of my interaction with Emiliano Montanari (an Italian film maker) and Enrico Ghezzi (a famous cinematic critic). I like [to] create polyhedral exhibitions with dynamic perspectives and strong communication.
LAAR: Could you talk a little bit about the similarities and differences that you have noticed in operating a nonprofit contemporary arts project in Italy vs. Los Angeles or the US in general?
BOEMIO: In my opinion contemporary art is in Italy an elite world, in the US [it] is more democratic .
LAAR: When you mentioned the art exhibition system in Italy is more elite, could you tell us more about that? For instance, we noticed that a lot of your events have sponsors, is that part of the usual process of coordinating an exhibition in Italy?
BOEMIO: This is an interesting point. The institutional budgets [in italy] are sometime difficult to take. The Vittorio Sgarbi affaire really points to this. Why could a not so great person be curating an Italian Pavillion? The political power is sometimes dangerous. Private sponsors give us the possibilities to create a cool and interesting project. The intelligent curator must create a proper link with the sponsor. I decide and artists must trust [me].
LAAR: So in many ways part of your role as curator is similar to that of a film producer.
BOEMIO: Yes, it’s really hard. This [institutional budget problem] is why there are really so many great curators in Italy that are not capable of doing anything.
LAAR: What are you working on right now?
BOEMIO: I’m working on: ATTITUDE CINEMA, a group show at the Pesaro Film Festival [it will also include some talks] will have a focus on California artists, the HIDDEN CITIES & HYBRID IDENTITIES talk in Rome, the show at Co/lab 2012, a show in a Rome gallery, and to two new projects.
Still from Attitude Cinema, courtesy of Camilla Boemio
LAAR: What can Los Angeles look forward to for your show at Co/lab? Can you give us a preview of the artists or concepts that you will be working with?
BOEMIO: It will a two part show, one [will be] an inedit installation by Georg Parthen, and the second part is Francesco Patriarca’s continuation of Migrations, a piece realised for the ISWA project in [the]Botanical Garden in Rome. We have to create an idea of nature in a fair.
The Georg installation will be composed of many photos; the Francesco installation [will include] drawings and the the sound of the nature!
LAAR: Where can our readers see images or video of your curatorial projects?
BOEMIO: My website, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and various links I have included. I write also for newspapers and magazines. Usually, I try to create in-depth magazine articles and other publications with a focus on group shows and artists.
[In the blogs you can also find press links]
5/15: Interview with ArtRa Curatorial
Artra Curatorial is from L to R – Max Presneill, Colton Stenke and Jason Ramos
For our inaugural STUDIO VISIT interview, Los Angeles Art Resource met up with Artra Curatorial to talk about the upcoming Co/lab art fair. LAAR will be the media partner for the Co/lab event, September 27-30, 2012 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, as part of the Art Platform fair. Stay tuned to Los Angeles Art Resource for weekly interviews throughout the summer with alternative spaces and artist-run projects participating in the Co/lab fair.
LAAR: First, tell us about yourselves, about Artra, Co/lab, as well as its relationship to RAID projects? Tell us a little bit about the organizational histories of both endeavors.
ARTRA: Artra Curatorial is Max Presneill, Colton Stenke and Jason Ramos. Max and Colton met when Colton interned long-term for Raid Projects while Max was head of that operation. We formed Artra to curate and produce large scale independent art projects on a voluntary basis, to encourage artistic risk taking, networking amongst artists and a sense of community here in LA. The LA art scene is mostly made up from people who have moved here from somewhere else and so are in need of a likeminded association of pro-active peers. Our first big project was the Here & Now show, with 70+ artists utilizing empty luxury apartments as mini galleries. When Max handed the control of Raid Projects into the capable hands of Jason in 2010, he was invited to join Artra also. So Artra is a little like the Raid Projects Alumni Network. Artra runs a space at the LA Mart building called 12th Floor, a 3000 square foot space that we allocate to curators, artists groups and touring projects. It is free to them but they have to run the project themselves, we just supply a space, some help installing and some media blasts, etc. Co/Lab is our art fair for alternative spaces and artist-run initiatives. It is by invitation only and is completely free to the spaces invited. We run it on a voluntary basis and try to respond to new spaces, younger groups and innovative curatorial projects. We set them together to grow the connections in the hopes of leading them towards increased interaction and projects for the future. Last year Co/lab was hosted at the LA Mart building downtown one floor below the Art Platform Art Fair’s inauguration, and this year will move along with Art Platform to Santa Monica’s Barkar Hanger. Co/lab will have more galleries and spaces taking part and the participating spaces will be from around the world this year. We have also been instigating numerous international exchange exhibitions by working with LA’s alternative spaces and those from other cities around the world. It is a slow but necessary path, we feel, which will bring artists to LA from global spaces and which will see LA based artists getting to show around the world — a great win-win situation!! Artra is run by working closely together, trusting each other’s skills, motivations and abilities but also maintaining areas of responsibility – Max is Curatorial Director, Colton is Operations Director and Jason is Development Director.
LAAR: What makes Co/lab different from other art fairs?
ARTRA: The Co/lab fair is unique in that it is free for the participants and visitors, it’s the only one of its kind in America, it empowers spaces to experiment in a free environment, it takes the pressure off of making sales. The layout of Co/lab was different too in that the viewers were always in a space, there weren’t aisles, they weren’t hustled along, so the space didn’t have the traditional booth feel of an art fair, it felt more like an exhibition. We didn’t want to try to turn alternative spaces into commercial spaces, we thought a lot about how to best utilize the fair platform while the spaces retained their identity. Co/lab looked and felt different, the atmosphere provided for a compliment to the Art Platform fair, Co/lab being more experimental, the ‘sizzle to the steak’ upstairs. So, what is the value of doing it, if not money? Extended audience, community amongst spaces, some may have commercial ambitions and can test out the experience in the art fair climate. Most importantly, it is developing the sense of community,making the spaces and the artists feel like they are on the ‘inside of the tent’, part of it all. Artra is keen on idea of teamwork and building that in programming, events, opportunities that bring people together to network and the long term effect of relationships regionally and internationally. Discussions develop on how to move forward together, where artists associated with one particular space work with other spaces around LA which was never common here before.
LAAR: Can you talk about the climate of the artist run gallery/curatorial project world in Los Angeles?
ARTRA: It is vibrant, strong and continually mutating. There is a strong sense of the power of working collaboratively, tight groups graduating from the schools together, cheap spaces and ambitious artists all contribute to the growth of this area of the art world. LA has always had them but it seems to have considerably grown since I moved here in 1997. They also move back and forth with the commercial galleries with more frequency and with easier transitions for the artists – perhaps this indicates a mutual respect between the two ‘camps’. Spaces have changed. We are living in an interesting moment where LA is starting to fulfill the hopes of being a major art center, the number and quality of galleries is blossoming, local schools are pumping out MFAs. To keep the bubble from bursting is to ensure LA artists are being seen in other countries, and to ensure that other countries’ artists being seen here, to continually ask, who and where are we in the world? We have to be showing the rest of the world that the reality of LA is exciting, it’s not just the commercial galleries, it’s the artists projects which gives LA the dynamism. LA’s status as an international art center starts at the ground floor of the alternative spaces, it has developed on every level, not just the museums and galleries. The DIY attitude is important enough to expand all over the world. Artra has worked on a growing number of exchange projects over the last year, in Australia, London, Istanbul, Berlin, Hong Kong, and other cities, and this international exchange is a significant aim for our long term growth. We try to provide the lines of communication by engaging these groups to ask questions like, “What would you like to see us facilitate? What can we provide?.” It’s not about us imposing ideas, it’s about us serving everyone to the best advantage with an open approach. Artra doesn’t have a space, we don’t make money, we organize and create the setting for interaction. We make events, work with existing spaces, figure out the logistics, set the scene for people to come in and do things.
LAAR: What are some of your organizational strategies? Do you have any recommendations you would care to share? Could you tell us a little bit about your selection process? How do you choose which artist run projects you work with out of the multitude of artist run projects in Los Angeles?
ARTRA: Spaces are invited to participate due to a number of factors – primarily being the quality of the work they show, of course. The innovativeness of the space, the frequency that they put on exhibitions, the width of their curatorial practice and the number of outside projects they work on all play a part in our decision making. We want the event to be a great experience so we need those who will fully engage in it, who play well with others, who network and see the larger issues of participation here, who welcome community and who want to have FUN. Other factors such as the personalities of those concerned enter the equation too then, realistically. We did do some running around to try to catch up on spaces that we weren’t familiar with that people have been talking about, to become more familiar who they are and what they do. The scene in LA for alternative artist spaces is so thriving, there is no one person or entity who tries to bring these together could possibly be exhaustive.
LAAR: Tell us about some of the specific national and international artist run and nonprofit spaces you have invited to participate.
ARTRA: That will have to wait until we have finalized all the invitees and confirmed a few things yet
LAAR: Where can people go to find more out about Artra and the Co/lab fair?
- 4/27: Volunteers/interns Needed (losangelesartresource.wordpress.com)