Archive for the reviews and commentary Category

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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VOLUME, live broadcast on KCHUNG Radio, Honor Fraser Gallery, April 10, 2014: notes by Geoff Tuck

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary on May 4, 2014 by geofftuckapi
All photos courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

All photos courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

To help me understand my experience of James Allen’s ambient noise set at Honor Fraser Gallery, I googled “listen vs. hear,” thinking that while I might have been “listening” to Allen’s set with intent (as might I look with intent when considering visual art), it is also true that I was hearing more than I could possibly understand.

For what it’s worth, from the website of Waseda University professor Victoria Muehleisen, I found that “Many students use listen and hear interchangeably. However, there is an important difference between them. Listening describes an intentional activity. When you are listening, you are actively trying to hear something. In contrast, hearing is something that happens without any intentional effort. You can hear something even when you don’t want to hear it and don’t try to hear it.”

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E.J. Hill, Complicit and Tacit, Honor Fraser Gallery, April 10, 3014, a response by Claire Anna Baker

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary on May 2, 2014 by claireannabaker
All photos courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

Photos of E.J. Hill courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

The wall of stillness in the room struck me as I entered E.J. Hill’s performance, Complicit and Tacit, 30 minutes into the approximately 120 which would pass. The collective gaze of the audience shot a hundred arrows toward the target of his isolated body. I moved through the silent room toward the front row. Audience heads fallen away, his full stance came into view. A dry circle stained his groin; a faded puddle ran down his right leg. Had he peed himself? Had he lost control, that is? He stood in a face off—his body versus the social expectations of the audience, the structure of the white box stage and his own middle-class khaki and loafer uniform. He fought all resistance in order to remain stuck to his box.

The emotional body of both audience and actor claimed full display. Despair, shame, fear, guilt, sadness and loneliness filled the constrained room. E.J.’s muscles were tense, his weight shifted foot to foot. His eyes roamed high, settling for only a breath before remembering they were not safe, still on the run. Then he looked down, a scarce hiding place. His shoulders subtly sinking, he bent down and rested his arms on his knees, the strain of his static calves apparent. Then he rose again, a defensive confidence. Tears swept over his face. The contortion of sadness compressed the space until blank numbness washed over him and all went slack.

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Sarah Petersen, Washout, Honor Fraser Gallery, April 9, 2014, as experienced by Nate Page

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary on May 1, 2014 by 6thstbridgedoc
All images courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

All images courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

Something seemed wrong as I entered the shiny black lobby of Honor Fraser Gallery to see Sarah Petersen‘s performance, Washout. It was silent and empty except for a large group of shoes that surrounded three wooden benches on the lobby floor. The shoes had a messy-yet-organic order roughly resembling the pattern of a sliced kiwi. Oddly, most pairs pointed inward towards the benches, as if removed by people whose attention was directed at the benches. I removed my shoes and pointed them at the benches too.

There was nobody around. The performance must have already started and I must have been late. I realized I was a half hour late as I walked barefoot down the corridor to an adjacent gallery. I had a fleeting thought that perhaps the shoe bench thing had been part of the performance or even a sculptural prop designed for latecomers.

At the end of the hallway, I saw the silhouettes of a few people blocking a large gallery doorway designed to easily accommodate big crates and paintings. As I got closer, a woman, aware of my presence, stepped aside and motioned for me to get a better view. I accepted and crossed the threshold into the bright gallery and quickly identified who was performer and who was audience.

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Karla Diaz, Box and Draw: Draw Your Opponent, Honor Fraser Gallery, April 8th, 2014, reviewed by Christopher Reynolds

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary on April 27, 2014 by christtr
All photos courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

All photos courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery

As the first event in the recent performance series Have At It, curated by Laura Watts for Honor Fraser Gallery, artist Karla Diaz hosted her new interactive performance, Box and Draw: Draw Your Opponent. Artists, teachers, organizers and the general public were invited to go head-to-head in a battle for athletic and aesthetic glory. Part competitive sport, part art instruction, Diaz offered a light-hearted and engaging physical and mental activity, suspending preconceived notions of what performance is and can be in a formal exhibition setting.

The performance space—a toy boxing ring inflated inside the gallery to occupy the majority of the main room—set a playful scene for the interactions, along with DJ Emilio Venegas, Jr., a cast of characters playing judges and participants, and referee and host Karla Diaz.

The performance consisted of round after round of artists and arts professionals duking it out in a comical boxing match with oversized gloves, cheering fans and the infamous bell signifying the end of each round. Upon hearing the bell, the opponents were sent to their corners to draw their adversary from memory while the energetic Diaz bounced about in the ring, adding another difficult twist to an already difficult task. While simultaneously monitoring the drawing activities, causing a bumpy distraction and enlivening the curious crowd, Diaz read from various art texts, spewing art jargon and aesthetic theory in between the dramatic violence of fist and pen.

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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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John Hogan’s Thoughts on Mike Kelley and Anita Pace’s Pansy Metal / Clovered Hoof

Posted in guest blog posts, reviews and commentary with tags , , on April 7, 2014 by thejohnhogan
Mike Kelley, Switching Marys (2004-05). Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

Mike Kelley, Switching Marys (2004-05).
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, via

Attending the Member’s Day Celebration of MOCA’s Mike Kelley retrospective with a brutal hangover was my way of opting into total immersion in the Irish Catholic shame Kelley is so famed for deconstructing. Or so my own robust Irish Catholic rationalization process would have me believe.

Mike Kelley with a hangover is like Lawrence Weiner stoned. Not only does it still make sense, it kind of makes more sense. Woozy videos of unwell vampires slumping around CalArts whining about how they’ve been on medical leave, or the slumped and dazed proles of Kandor milling around their pathetic cramped quarters within a swirling bell jar biosphere are all the more existentially poignant when one is prone to actual nausea.

As much as the sadistic barbers, spaced-out toddlers, and wine-soaked harem members of the exhibition felt consistent with my psychic space, my body needed regular doses of fresh air. So I spent a fair amount of time in the impromptu outdoor cocktail lounge set up for the event. At one point I decided to attempt to resuscitate myself with a hair-of-the-dog cocktail of vodka and “blood orange” mixer. It was a bad idea, as the afternoon sun began to bear down and I felt a little worse with each sip. Luckily, it was just at this time that Pansy Metal / Clovered Hoof began, and served as a shot in the arm.

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