Michael Parker, Juicework, Human Resources, February 6–10, 2015
Money, influence, and hangers-on are descending on the LA art scene these days like vultures, turning it into a place that I barely recognize any more. Openings that were already crazy before are now completely unbearable, and at any given event, I’m more likely to run into wide-eyed escapees from New York crowing about how “things are much more possible in LA” than into the friends of ten years who used to populate the same events. It’s discomfiting, making it easy to think that the good times are over—yet another great grassroots scene ruined by its own popularity and inevitable gentrification.
But then something like Juicework happens and it gives me hope that maybe the truly great, unique, and beautiful stuff—the stuff that to me defines LA much more than any giant-warehouse-turned-blue-chip-gallery—can continue to co-exist alongside the annoying dreck. Michael Parker, an artist’s artist who is well known for beloved projects like Steam Egg and The Unfinished, has made another technically ingenious sculptural installation that also functions as a socially engaging participatory performance. It’s amazing, his knack for doing this, without ever falling into the ineffectual preciousness that mars certain other projects labeled as “social practice.”
Juicework is essentially an invitation to a gigantic community juicing party/spa. It is made up, first, of about 1,000 unique sculptures that Parker made himself, by hand, over a long period of time. There are raw wood tables, slung low, accompanied by little Flintstones-like wooden stools and cushions made out of shrink-wrapped fibers; a multitude of exquisitely knotty ceramic bowls and gouging tools of various sizes; bulbous, plant-like lamps that provide mood lighting; a dishwashing station composed of three cascading fountains/sinks made out of large bowls; and a hand-rinsing station near the entrance.
There is a seemingly endless supply of fresh citrus fruits donated by two local farms, Mud Creek Ranch and JJ’s Lone Daughter. Parker also thoughtfully provides a large supply of fresh hand towels—the used towels are hung on a line running along one wall of the gallery.
Juicework is a completely crazy and random concept that ends up making utterly perfect sense. Juicework is stunning in the humbleness of its means, the ambition of its scale, and the deep, expansive generosity of its execution. Juicework is a wonder and a joy to spend time in—either walking around looking at people juicing, or sitting with a group of old friends or new acquaintances, chatting and getting sticky together and drinking the delicious fruits (literally) of one’s own labors. Juicework is a squeaky clean orgy of pleasure, or the most nutritious sculpture you will ever make. Juicework is the best kind of sensual site-specificity—culled from the fat of the surrounding land, inviting the intimate bodily participation of attendants, and giving freely and abundantly of itself.
Soon on this blog, we will hear more from the man himself, Michael Parker, about the particulars of this project. But for now, I want to encourage all of you to get over to Human Resources and experience Juicework for yourselves. Seriously, don’t miss it, and bring the people you love. It’s open today and tomorrow from noon to 8 p.m. There will be a micro-performance at 8:15 TONIGHT (Monday) as a group of artists turn some of the ceramic sculptures into wind instruments. On Tuesday night, there will be another musical performance at 8:30 p.m. by Chris Corsano, Un Ciego, and others, with a separate admission fee.