Archive for the reviews and commentary Category

The Mountain Bar at Tif Sigfrids, with a performance by Gracie DeVito and company, August 7, 2014

Posted in historical notes, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on August 8, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Image courtesy Tif Sigfrids and Gracie DeVito

Image courtesy Tif Sigfrids and Gracie DeVito

Tif Sigrids, longtime fixture on the early Chinatown scene before she set up her current digs in Hollywood, is paying tribute to her (and our) past with a temporary installation of the Mountain Bar at her gallery. Founded by Jorge Pardo and Steve Hanson in 2003, the Mountain Bar was for many years a gathering spot for the then-hot Chinatown art scene. In 2009, Pardo created the upstairs bar that would become home to The Mountain School of Arts (a free school initiated by Eric Wesley and Piero Golia) as well as various presentations, talks, performances and film screenings. In 2012, the bar closed, and Pardo’s designs have been in storage ever since.

Now, Sigfrids has taken an actual section of the original upstairs bar and installed it on one side of her gallery, where she and various volunteers serve free beer and wine to guests. The beautiful, cinematic design of the bar is served really well by the small, clean space of the gallery, where both its aesthetic qualities and its cultural significance seem to resonate with an extra glow, bathing the entire space in its warm, charismatic light. Perhaps nostalgia and history have something to do with that.

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Q&A with Rebecca Bruno: THE BEGINNING

Posted in interviews, reviews and commentary on July 27, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing two iterations of a dance performance by Rebecca Bruno, which both took place at Live Arts Los Angeles in front of a small group of friends and colleagues. Titled THE BEGINNING, the work seeks to engage directly with the energies generated by the people in the room, digging deep into the dancer’s sensory awareness to create a series of responses to the present moment. As Bruno writes in the announcement email: “A couple questions I am asking in this practice: What happens when the exploratory moments in a work’s nascency are performed? What, if anything, can a dancer indicate about collective energy?”

The first half of THE BEGINNING consists of a short participatory exercise led by Bruno. Audience members are asked to choose from amongst a set of essential oils provided for us. Whichever one we are most attracted to, we can apply to our bodies as needed. Properly re-tuned, we are then asked to get into pairs and walk around the studio, one after the other. The person in front leads while the person behind follows and observes the first person’s body and way of walking. After a couple of minutes, we stop and share our experience with one another. Then we switch roles and repeat.

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Emily Mast, ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again, Night Gallery, July 5, 2014

Posted in reviews and commentary on July 7, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Emily Mast ENDE Again 007a

A huge crowd was gathering outside the door of Night Gallery at the amber twilight hour. I spied the faces of several people who don’t really go out much these days, making a rare effort to attend this event. The large rollover gate finally opened with a dramatic bang some time after 8, and people filed in. I pressed inward with my friends and noticed two staging areas stocked with props and semi-separated by a curve around movable walls. At the far end, a band was set up. Two walls at opposite ends of the space were designated for live video projections.

There was space for the audience in the areas around and between the staging areas, which were delineated with tape, and Emily directed us to sit or stand so that the performers would have the room they needed to do their thing. There were over a hundred people squeezed into the space, and wherever you were, you could only see a portion of what was going on. Emily announced that the performance would be run through at least twice, so that everyone could see as much as possible. For the first performance, my friends and I stood at the rim of the first staging area, close to the band, and facing the large video projection wall. We were surrounded by viewers behind us and faced the viewers who sat under the video wall.

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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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Flora Wiegmann, Dyslexicon, c. nichols project, April 2–30, 2014

Posted in reviews and commentary on May 27, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Flora Wiegmann and dancers, Periodic dance movements and notational text constituting a final performance, at c. nichols project, April 30, 2014

Flora Wiegmann and dancers, Periodic dance movements
and notational text constituting a final performance—
,
at c. nichols project, April 30, 2014

It’s been a long time since I last wrote on this blog about Flora Wiegmann’s work, about three years in fact. Her presence, however, has been a welcome constant on the LA scene, as she consistently finds intriguing ways to connect contemporary dance with the visual arts. Her enactment of conceptually framed, site-specific movement works in galleries, museums, artist-run spaces, and private homes is part of her ongoing quest “to recontextualize dance and grant it new possibilities for communication, and to question the limitations inherent in time-based performance.” Wiegmann’s most recent project, unveiled at the newly founded c.nichols project in Mar Vista, seemed to present a logical apex of sorts for her line of inquiry.

The intriguing Dyslexicon utilized written dance notation, which has typically been used to preserve historic dances for the purpose of study, within a standard commercial gallery’s framework for exhibiting art objects. Wiegmann first composed six different “scores” for individual movement works—these were prose texts that consisted of fairly generic instructions such as “spin left, bend over, fix gaze on something blue,” etc. She then made vinyl wall panels with these texts, giving each one a different color to differentiate them, and installed them in the gallery as though they were drawings or paintings. Nine different dancers (Rebecca Bruno, Margherita Elliot, Busy Gangnes, Jil Stein, Christine Suarez, Alexa Weir, Lisa Wahlander, Wiegmann, and Allison Wyper) were engaged to execute the works, using gallery hours as rehearsal/performance time.

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Studio: Winter 2014, REDCAT, March 23, 2014, reviewed by Maia Lee

Posted in guest blog posts, Institutional Partnerships, reviews and commentary on May 26, 2014 by eunok1
Photo: Maia Lee

Photo: Maia Lee

The sweeping red architectural limbs of the REDCAT theatre ushered in a small audience who hummed with excitement and anticipation. The long history of theatre and its traditions gave in to the setting of something new, something that promised to be refreshing, and dare I say progressive. Maybe it was my own background in theatre that made me keen to the difference in atmosphere, or maybe it was the astonishing amount of young people who were in attendance. I tried to keep from turning in my seat to gawk at actor Danny DeVito, who happened to be in attendance. Guest curators Nick Duran and Anna Oxygen leapt up on stage to introduce the series, a collection of experimental performance works that showcased emerging Los Angeles artists.

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Rafa Esparza on Nick Duran’s every time you are near, performed at Pieter on April 14, 2014

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary on May 5, 2014 by hechoamano
All photos: Amanda Björn Photography

All photos: Amanda Björn Photography

It’s been a while, but I can still remember reaching into my pocket for my phone to search through my playlists and find that one streaming sound of sweet melancholia. You know the one. That one playlist that makes you cry so hard it causes you to double-tripple-sniff through the sobs, running mucous and seemingly never-ending trail of tears. The heartbreaking music that allows you to go through a necessary deluge of pain, sorrow and loss, spilling it onto your lap so that you can see it, touch it, make sense of it.

Nick Duran’s every time you are near, performed in part alongside Brian Getnick at Pieter Performance Space in Los Angeles, summoned a ritual that sometimes involved a highly self-aware and performed catharsis, yet at other times aroused an intuitive and joyous surrender to the environment that music assembles—in this case, Dionne Warwick’s album Make It Easy on Yourself (both A and B sides on vinyl).

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