Thursday, June 14, 2018

Made in L.A.

The Hammer has added a bridge since my last visit -- not to the wider community, but within itself. No more going down stairs to climb up those on the other side of the courtyard.

The piece on the wall belongs to MPA. The other half of these glasses can be found on the floor at the start of the Made in L.A. exhibition.

Following MPA is Charles Long's installation based on the sectioning of the human penis. Equal parts classical ruin, scrimshaw assemblage and art historical index (penile cross-section as Munch's Scream and South Park's Cartman?).

Neha Choksi contributed a very watchable video installation (three projections, one monitor). Choksi's is one of five or so works that feature dance or dance artistry.

taisha paggett contributed a video installation that alludes to the dancer's body as bellows. Between its two monitors, at the base of an "open mic" that invites viewers to share our breath(s), are the artist's post-it-notes, recipe cards... Note the filters.

James Benning presents a spare room with sculpture, wall works and projection. This pairing of the U.S. flag and a textile portrait of the assassinated Che Guevara caught my eye. Thank you, James. I know where I am now.

One of the highlights of the exhibition was the work of Luchita Hurdado (b. 1920), in particular her painting Encounter (1971). Vancouver has seen a lot of recent work by painters working with textiles (from the sewn, intricately puckered sheets of Colleen Heslin to the droopy "hard edge" weavings of Brent Wadden to the woven strands of acrylic in the paintings of Angela Teng); but in Hurdado's Encounter, it is the weave that is applied to the surface (with paint).

For me, the Hammer galleries provide the perfect length of space for an exhibition. As for Made in L.A., as much as I enjoyed the first half (Galleries 4 and 5), the second half (Galleries 1 and 2) wobbled due to this recent institutional pandemic known as the overhang. Yes, I understand the desire to overwhelm the viewer after we emerge from the sea change that is Suné Woods's undersea world, but surely it was not the curator's intention to hit us with this terra-wave of decorative, if not juvenile work. That would be, as they say in the biz, disingenuous. 

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