Archive for the photo essays Category

Michael Parker, Juicework, Human Resources, February 6–10, 2015

Posted in photo essays, reviews and commentary on February 9, 2015 by Carol Cheh

2015 02 06_0029

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.”

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AMRA, Set the MOOD, Human Resources, December 20–21, 2014

Posted in photo essays on December 24, 2014 by Carol Cheh


So I went to this event on Sunday night, billed as a “multisensory art show” put together by a group called AMRA. First we were directed upstairs to look at some art (mostly paintings) and some fruit arrangements. Then we were shepherded downstairs to watch/participate in a groovalicious, hippie-rave-like ritual/performance. The costumed performers began by leading the room in making sounds to awaken and cleanse each of the chakras. Then, they sang and danced a few numbers.

The large room at Human Resources was festooned with elaborate background video projections and fruits that swung from the ceiling. There definitely seemed to be a theme of organic growth; a lot of the projected images were of plants growing in nature.

I took some photos of the performance that turned out pretty cool, so I’m sharing them here. When it was over, the performers passed out fruits for people to eat and encouraged everyone to dance. Happy holidays!

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Pieter Plays the River, Ed Reyes River Greenway, October 26, 2014

Posted in photo essays with tags , , on November 13, 2014 by Carol Cheh
All photos by John Tain

All photos by John Tain

From Pieter’s press release: “As part of Play the LA River’s year of riverside programming, Pieter Performance Space presents a day of dance and performance at Ed Reyes River Greenway in Lincoln Heights. Pieter is located near the confluence of the LA River and Arroyo Seco, where industrial and residential spaces meet a vibrant urban aquatic landscape. Pieter is commissioning site-responsive choreographed works, improvisations, interactive happenings, and a free community yoga class, to be presented as part of an afternoon of riverside art.”

Some of the works in the event are captured in the photos that follow. Thank you to JOHN TAIN for supplying the photos, and Allison Wyper and Maya Gingery for help with the captions. Pieter Plays the River was co-produced by Pieter and Project 51.

Option - option, choreographed by Harriet Bailey. Dancers: Laura Berg, Lindsey Lollie, Jordan Saenz, Gracie Whyte.

Option – option, choreographed by Harriet Bailey. Dancers: Laura Berg, Lindsey Lollie, Jordan Saenz, Gracie Whyte.

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KISSME LO MAXIMO!, Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, Colectivo KissMe and friends, Human Resources, July 3–6, 2014

Posted in noteworthy, photo essays, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on July 4, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

If you’re around this Fourth of July weekend, you should stop by Human Resources and check out KISSME LO MAXIMO!, a groovalicious installation by LA artists Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, and several very helpful friends, in collaboration with a group of Colombian artists calling themselves Colectivo KissMe. The installation is part of an ongoing project that examines and critiques the culture and politics surrounding the infamous KissMe Cali, a Colombian sex hotel. (Think amped-up Madonna Inn with rooms rentable by the hour.)

The Human Resources installation looks like a very glamorous South American rave. At the opening last night, people roamed around amidst video, sound and light installations; outrageous sculptures, wall hangings and found objects; a slide that dumps people onto a bed and a pile of giant cushions; pornos by Margie Schnibbe that you can’t see; and even a sex room (which as of 10:30 last night had not yet been utliized). There was also a live feed from the artists in Colombia. Fabulous hostesses del Sol, Boya and Margot Walsh got dolled up almost beyond recognition in what I was told was approved Colombian hostess regalia (tons of makeup, huge false eyelashes and revealing outfits) and gladly offered tours of the show.

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Elena Bajo, With Entheogenic Intent (Burn the Witch), finissage and performance, 18th Street Art Center, March 25, 2014: A Photo Essay by Andrew Chung

Posted in guest blog posts, Institutional Partnerships, photo essays on April 21, 2014 by andrewthephotog

From the event description:

“During the exhibition, With Entheogenic Intent (Burn the Witch), the space will fluctuate constantly as an environment where new spells will be cast and new historical elements undertaken. Artist Lab Resident Elena Bajo simultaneously performs and investigates the ‘sculptural anarchive’ of suppressed political histories of the geopolitical context of California, using both anarchic structure and structured disorder as epistemological and ontological methods of performance research, becoming a Dadaist collage that creates new forms of alienation and aesthetic production.”

Elena Bajo's Performance

Elena Bajo's Performance

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Well Played, organized by Gracie DeVito, ltd los angeles, April 12–13, 2014

Posted in photo essays, reviews and commentary on April 14, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Gracie DeVito - Drive By 037a

Artist Gracie DeVito did such a great job organizing Well Played, a two-day mini-festival of short performance works that happened at ltd los angeles over the weekend. I caught most of the performances and everything that I saw was fresh, timely and compelling.

Looking at the group of works as a whole, I think you can discern certain qualities and trends that are at the vanguard of doing-performance-as-art right now. First, absurdist theater and improv are increasingly becoming the modes of choice, in a notable move away from the more conceptual and endurance-based works of the past. This makes sense to me, as I think theatrical formats can potentially offer a more pliable and multi-layered space in which to create work. Second, collaboration among peers and the incorporation of a variety of media such as video, installation, popular music and literature continue to be prominent, as they have for several years now.

And lastly, artists are hyper-conscious at the moment of the obscenities that have become commonplace in the current art market bubble, and are compelled to both comment on them and struggle against them in their work.

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Emily Mast, The Least Important Things, LACMA, March 29, 2014: A photo essay by Andrew Chung

Posted in guest blog posts, Institutional Partnerships, photo essays with tags , , , on April 8, 2014 by andrewthephotog

From the LACMA media alert:

“For The Least Important Things, Emily Mast selected a diverse range of works by Joan Brossa (1919–1998) which were written with the intention of being staged. Brossa was a Catalan poet, playwright, graphic designer, and visual artist who made work about the limitations of language and its material nature. His ‘stage poetry’ embraced incoherence, the everyday, and popular forms of entertainment such as magic, cabaret, and comedy routines. Brossa’s works are an integral part of the performances and were specially translated for the presentation at LACMA. The performances are staged throughout the LACMA campus in intermediate spaces that reflect Brossa and Mast’s interest in the undefined.”

Elena Bajo's Performance

Elena Bajo's Performance

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Rafa Esparza with Sebastian Hernandez, no water under the bridge, Fourth Street viaduct, March 15, 2014

Posted in photo essays, reviews and commentary on March 19, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Rafa Esparza - no water under the bridge 001a

This past Saturday was a spectacular day for venturing outdoors to see art. Two major sculptural installations were unveiled in the late afternoon — Michael Parker’s The Unfinished at the L.A. River, and Finishing School’s We Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust on the Occidental College campus. But before that, Rafa Esparza enacted the first of two offsite performances planned to coincide with his solo exhibition at Vincent Price Art Museum.

no water under the bridge was performed under the bridge at Fourth and Lorena Streets in East L.A. This iconic viaduct, which has been used as a location in several popular films dealing with gang violence, provided a dramatic, sweeping, auditorium-like setting for Esparza’s performance, conducted in collaboration with artist Sebastian Hernandez.

Hernandez, who is also an Aztec dancer, performed a native dance in full costume while Esparza quietly responded to his movements in the background. This involved a number of actions that included the shedding of a significant amount of blood. Bundles of flowers were strategically hung in the performance area prior to the start of the dance, and taken down at its conclusion. This beautiful and wrenching ceremony lasted for almost two hours.

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Confusion Is Sex #3, Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, organized by Dino Dinco, Dawn Kasper and Oscar Santos, August 3, 2013

Posted in photo essays, reviews and commentary with tags , on August 5, 2013 by Carol Cheh

Confusion Is Sex 3 018a

Last December, about 40 acres of forest were suddenly cut down by the US Army Corps of Engineers in an alleged attempt to preserve public safety. According to cryptic statements made by the USACE, the lush trees and brush, home to countless wildlife species, were razed because they had been harboring gay cruisers and homeless people. This was done without the consent of any other relevant parties, and has provoked the ire of state officials and environmentalists alike.

What an ingenious, and highly challenging, spot to hold an afternoon of site-specific, gender-queering performances by over 30 artists working in a variety of media. Since 2010, the Confusion Is Sex series—organized by Dino Dinco, Dawn Kasper, and Oscar Santos—has sought to “confront/defy/examine/interrogate the desire to categorize ourselves and others [with regards to] gender and sexuality.” Sunday’s event was billed as the final event in the series, and it certainly made for a notable finish—its location in a fairly large and varied patch of land that had recently been ravaged made for the most unique and dramatic performance setting in recent memory.

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KATE-CHUNG and Perform Chinatown 2013

Posted in photo essays, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on July 29, 2013 by Carol Cheh
Kate Gilbert performs Two Less Things to Worry About (Lucy Returns) at Perform Chinatown

Kate Gilbert performs Two Less Things to Worry About
(Lucy Returns)
at Perform Chinatown

This year’s Perform Chinatown looked to be a significant improvement over the two previous years’ editions, both of which I panned here on this blog and on the LA Weekly’s blog. The element that really made a difference was the installment of wooden cubes or pyramids, painted either white or black, to act as frames for individual artists. These served to set aside a certain amount of much-needed sacred space in which magical things could occur; lacking such spaces last year, the festival took on too much of a chaotic street fair quality, with pedestrians and onlookers stumbling into performance space and impeding the intended flow of energy.

Co-organizer Jamie McMurry, who put together this year’s edition with his partner Alejandra Beatriz Herrera Silva, also noted that the structures functioned as a satirical play on the art world’s ubiquitous and much revered/reviled white cube/black box. It worked on that level too. Not to mention, they just looked cool. The festival was not relegated to these structures, however. They simply served as anchor points, housing the durational performances that lasted for the entirety of the event. Performances also happened on an open central stage, inside of a few galleries that line Chung King Road, and randomly roaming about the area, making for a nice spatial balance.

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