Contributed by Mary Addison Hackett / There may be a few artists working today who support the current administration in Washington, but it’s safe to say that most count themselves as members of the Resistance, such as it is. This doesn’t mean that we’re destined to make reflexive, shrill propaganda. For anyone who wants to see how art can play a constructive and nuanced role in social discourse, “Made in L.A. 2018,” a biennial exhibition at the Hammer Museum, makes a good playbook.
Curated by Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale, the exhibition features a diverse group of 33 artists ranging in age from 29 to 97, and includes painting, drawing, performance, video, sculpture, photographs, and immersive environments. At 97, Luchita Hurtado is the oldest artist included in the biennial. Her paintings, produced in the 1960s and 1970s, often feature her body, seen from her point of view, blending naturally into her environment, be it domestic interior or western landscape. The paintings are modest in scale, a noticeable quality in an exhibition in which the majority of works lean toward the gargantuan.
Second-wave feminism is a key component in the collaborative work of Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh. Spread out in a plush carpeted environment reminiscentof a New Age therapist’s office, the multimedia installation features soft-sculpture of potted plants, make-up, journals, to-do lists, and other mundane items, along with a projection of videos that manage to capture the quasi-mystical counterculture of an earlier era, which nonetheless remains prevalent in pockets of Southern California. (We’re really into gemstones, herbal remedies, and positive energy here in the desert. Don’t judge.)
More broadly, the success of Gordon and Whitmarsh’s collaborative project, as with much of the work in the exhibition, resides in the displacement of irony. In these times, the physical space created via the artwork, inside the confines of the museum, provides world-weary viewers with an insular moment of respite – not so much to escape the world outside as to ponder it from a therapeutic distance.
“Made in LA 2018,” organized by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, and Erin Christovale, assistant curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial associate. Performances are coordinated by Vanessa Arizmendi, curatorial assistant. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Through September 2, 2018.
Participants (links to all artists here):
Carmen Argote (b. 1981, Guadalajara, Mexico)
James Benning (b. 1942, Milwaukee, WI)
Diedrick Brackens (b. 1989, Mexia, TX)
Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978, London, U.K.)
Neha Choksi (b. 1973, Belleville, N.J.)
Beatriz Cortez (b. 1970, San Salvador, El Salvador)
Mercedes Dorame (b. 1981, Los Angeles, CA)
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer (b. 1979, New York, N.Y.)
Aaron Fowler (b. 1988, St. Louis, MO)
Nikita Gale (b. 1983, Anchorage, AK)
Jade Gordon (b. 1975, Santa Rosa, CA) and
Megan Whitmarsh (b. 1972, Cambridge, MA)
Lauren Halsey (b. 1987, Los Angeles, CA)
EJ Hill (b. 1985, Los Angeles, CA)
Naotaka Hiro (b. 1972, Osaka, Japan)
John Houck (b. 1977, Pine Ridge, S.D.)
Luchita Hurtado (b. 1920, Caracas, Venezuela)
Gelare Khoshgozaran (b. 1986, Tehran, Iran)
Candice Lin (b. 1979, Concord, MA)
Charles Long (b. 1958, Long Branch, N.J.)
Nancy Lupo (b. 1983, Flagstaff, AZ)
Daniel Joseph Martinez (b. 1957, Los Angeles, CA)
MPA (b. 1980, Redding, CA)
Alison O’Daniel (b. 1979, Miami, FL)
Eamon Ore-Giron (b. 1973, Tuscon, AZ)
taisha paggett (b. 1976, Fresno, CA)
Christina Quarles (b. 1985, Chicago, IL)
Michael Queenland (b. 1970, Pasadena, CA)
Patrick Staff (b. 1987, Bognor Regis, UK)
Linda Stark (b. 1956, San Diego, CA)
Flora Wiegmann (b. 1976, Lincoln, NE)
Suné Woods (b. 1975, Montréal, Canada)
Rosha Yaghmai (b. 1979, Santa Monica, CA)
Author Bio: Mary Addison Hackett is a visual artist, editor, and occasional writer whose practice spans painting, video, experimental documentary, and other time-based projects. She serves as an official advisor for Locate Arts, a non-profit based in Nashville, and recently launched a pop-up residency program located on a small parcel of land in the Mojave Desert, near Joshua Tree National Park. She lives and work in Joshua Tree, California, and doesn’t plan on moving any time soon.
Of Latino descent: “Radical Women” in LA
Art exchange: Catherine Haggarty’s trip to Los Angeles
Interview: Timothy Nolan and his public art project at LAX
The Desert is Not Barren, Part 1
The Desert is Not Barren, Part 2: John Plowman and Bernard Leibov at BoxoPROJECTS
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