Thursday, March 29, 2012



rethinking my artistic identity-bingjie li






the experiences brought by New York is totally different from the LA trip. I feel the metropolises like a container with different people and identities from all over the world. i would concentrate on the rethinking of identity. as an international student I am very interested in the forming of identity and how it chan

ged with the surroundings. honestly speaking I was a little bit confused with my own identity before, as I got a diverse background while people easily categorize you simply with one of your characteristics or features. but the talk at ICI, the visits to Asia Society and MOCA, acting as inspiring elements, offer me an opportunity to rethink the issue of identity, and my own formation of identity. let's say the exhibition of Sarah Sze, some piece of hers totally tells her oriental identity but some of her works is hard to tell the artist's background and history, the universe one about day and night. personally it is almost impossible to find a clue telling her Chinese side.



identity shown what you have got through in the past. i would like to discourse my artistic identity here. As a design student, the most thrilling and attractive part definitely is the Guggenheim. the beautiful elegant spiral started ranging art since 1956. decades did not change the meaning of the design. I felt extremely excited there and my friend was a little bit confused about my status. this interesting reaction made me think about identity in a deeper extent. people tend to think the world in the perspective based on their own background and their experiences. for example we are faced the same task, i would be intended to think a long run meanwhile she would easily hind herself focussed on the presenting moment. i never consider this in a way relat

ed to identity, but I just took it for granted that because we got different personalities. then what about explaining this phenomenon from the aspect of identity? before I came to SFAI, I got a four-year study in field of design. Design aims at solving problems and offering people a more comfortable and cozy experience of living. it means a designer, or who is supposed to be a designer, must have a keen eye on what is the same drawback in different individual


experiences. take the ramen spoon i saw in the MoMA gift shop as an illustration, its designer had great and detailed observation of people's eating ramen. S/he concentrated on the behavior itself, it doesn't matter who is the one eating ramen, or when is the time that ramen been eaten. the ramen spoon combing a fork and a spoon in a clever way solve the problem of having them at the same time. gaining trainings for several years to form the logic behind the ramen spoon, I easily pay attention to the issues in daily life which are also everlasting, such as human natures and emotions.

Meanwhile, my friend had a background in mass media before she came here for the graduate program in SFAI. Mass media requires people to be sensitive of the presenting issues right this moment, probably it is the reason that she usually gets inspiration from news or the ongoing issues for her art work.


this phenomenon is pretty interesting, and my discourse sounds making sense in some way. for me the greatest thought from the new york trip is about identity. every thing happens for reasons. every piece tells the artist's hidden part of identity.

LACMA in a crunch

You know you’re in for an experience when your curator casually mentions the museum she works in is commonly referred to as a campus. LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of Art) turned out to be just that. One drives in the back of the campus and parks underground. Once you’ve emerged two stories up you are greeted with three huge buildings, a ticket office, a multitude of outdoor sculpture and even an outdoor bar and restaurant. It is difficult to know where to begging. Luckily for us, that was decided by others.

One you have had a moment to take in the massive structure surrounding you and the expansive grounds of the museum, you just have to pick a place and start. If you are like the group we were with, this can be daunting experience. We had been visiting museums all day and had just driven from the Hammer museum in five o’clock traffic to meet with a curator by the permanent Richard Serra instillation. She spoke to us briefly, describing LACMA as a ‘encyclopedic’ museum, and correctly pointed out that the largest challenge they face is one that is not uncommon to many museums half its size: dealing with visitor short term memory fatigue. With over 40 curators working together to bridge the gaps between the various departments, the overarching goal of the museum s to have a watchful eye for globalizations and the ramifications the art presented within the museum represents to the rest of the world.

After circling the Serra piece, we moved as a group into the next room to view Chris Burden’s kinetic sculpture Metropolis II. While it was immensely fascinating to view the structure and to hear about the process of the construction and the decision of the museum to commission the work straight from the curator, it was ultimately like stumbling upon a giant oyster and discovering that there was no pearl. Or, rather that the pearl only appeared on the weekends as we were told that the gargantuan structure requires a person to operate it and can therefore only be turned on for the general viewing public on Saturdays and Sundays. I have since watched Youtube videos, which honestly only adds to my disappointment in not seeing it in action.

Since we were pressed for time most of the group quickly looked at the map and headed out in all different directions. I chose to wander through “California Design 1030-1964: Living in a Modern Way”. This was one of the two remaining exhibitions left from LACMA’s original five part contributions to Pacific Standard Time. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition. For me, it was a really enjoyable way to wind down a day of intense art viewing. I spend probably half an hour getting lost in the pristine Julius Schulman photographs and the case studies for the home plans allowed me to be incredibly dorky and imagine myself building and designing a house in LA in 1950. It was really fun and a really easy way to loose myself in the art. Another unexpected treat was the full scale Eames living room, which I actually found surprisingly bland --- I really though ay would have used more colors. There were many exhibits I visited during the trip where I wrote down to but the exhibition catalogue later, but I think this might be the only one I actually get around to purchasing. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

LACMA is one place where I would have really wanted more time to walk through. I was such a massive compound and I know that I missed out on seeing the other permanent exhibitions. It is certainly at the top of my list of things to do on my next trip to LA. That being said, I am extremely happy we fit into our day of marathon driving and gallery viewing. I could not think of a better structure to end on.

Martin Strickland

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Epicenter


Is Culver City really the “epicenter” of the Los Angeles art scene as popular consensus would lead us to believe? Visiting in mid February might not be at the height of the art season, but being big time shouldn't require a season, it means you're always on. I always thought that being in the epicenter of anything would be some sort of galvanizing experience, like sitting next to Jay-Z and Beyonce when Kanye stole the mike from Taylor swift and begun his famous diatribe. The epicenter should be exhilarating.

Then something has got to be wrong. How can the epicenter of the “Contemporary” art scene be contemporary if its not in step with more than a little semblance of a contemporary narrative? Don't get me wrong, there are a few galleries that are definitely taking the challenge seriously like Honor Frasier, LAXART, and Cherry & Martin. But gauging from the larger Culver city gallery scene, art production is still stuck in a very well done version of what we've already seen over and over again. What's left is an intellectualized, clean, and possibly well-sellable surface made by some-thing rather than some-one.

As far as human qualities go, Empathy seems to possibly be the most indispensable, not just because its a hot research topic in the sciences recently, but because it seems to be one of the most crucial pathways for being a fully functioning human. What's miraculous about the empathetic capacity is its ability to deeply feel something, to internalize the external, and to live it with almost as much, if not the same, intensity as the person on the other end. What's even more miraculous is that the other person doesn't even have to be there in front of you. They could just write you a story about some fictitious character and have you read it, and through simple little marks on a page you could be balling your eyes out.

The 20th century saw some ethically dubious capitalization of empathy as advertising figured out the equation and was shortly thereafter manipulating our hearts and fears in order to sell us something. And to most people that just feels dirty and wrong. Art capitalized on this sacred equation as well, and became what we call Kitsch; the formulaic production of art. What's scary is that empathy is so strong that even while watching a movie we know is formulaic and Kitsch we can still be brought to tears because we cant override our own system. That's how strong empathy is.

Which is of course why we are now so distrustful of not only our own emotions, but also any art which outrightly expresses emotion or personal narrative. This leads us back to Culver City where much of everything you see negotiates out dangerous emotion opting instead for a safer version of art that looks and operates like how one thinks art should be. What I was left craving for after visiting Culver City was not only the element of risk, the negotiation of kitsch, something about what it is to live in 2012, but also something personal. I wanted something a little grittier, something a little less sellable, but ten times more interesting. Granted, this is the commercial art scene and everyone has to pay rent, but the world is already filled with beautiful and clean objects with no trace of a human hand, why would I want another?

-Pete Hickok

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

LA Trip: The Hammer


Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone at the Hammer Museum worked as one of those refreshing moments where as the viewer you are transformed into a world not your own and taken for an interesting ride. The way the show is composed can not only assist the work on display but, in some cases serve as the driving force for the overall principle of what Alina Szapocznikow’s artistic endeavors were about. We were first greeted by curator Allegra Pesenti who guided us along the artistic journey of Alina Szapocznikow’s remarkable, however unfortunate short artistic career. The exhibition included approximately 60 sculptures where some were casted in polyester resin during the 1960’s as well as multiple works on paper.

The exhibition takes you from Szapocznikow’s early sculptures and from there, guides the viewer in a chronological manner throughout the artist’s career. There were numerous stops along the journey of Szapocznikow’s work, which, individually, stand as impressive works. However, there is a particular narrative to which I personally felt could only come into fruition by the dialogue that is created by the entire collection on display. That is one, to my understanding of artistic fragmented misery, that runs parallel with the biography of the artist’s thorny life. Szapocznikow was born in 1926 in Poland to a Jewish family where she would spend her formative years being transferred among enforced ghettos during the German occupation, and later then, among three Nazi concentration camps. After being liberated in 1945 she later settled in Prague, and then afterward to her native Poland. She would later travel back and forth between Poland and France, spending her last decade in France before losing her battle with 2nd degree bone cancer after battling primary breast cancer, which mutilated her female body at the age of 46.

Upon learning this information from Curator Allegra Pesenti, I was insistently unsettled by the level of flesh and fragmentation that could be found in the fetish-like polyester resin (which very likely played a hand in her eventual death). The sculptures that are produced in a very rough and unsophisticated manner certainly add to the feelings of human butchery that one may be aware of when coming across sculptures of fragmented breasts and mouths. To quote the artist, Szapocznikow claimed that her sculptures were “awkward clumsy objects made by hand”, which to me is a statement about the artist’s modesty. However, it is plain for all to see how the artists’ work acknowledges not only fundamental skills but also, progresses upon classical sculptural forms of the body and takes a more modernistic approach. There were pieces of work within the collection that took the familiar body parts that could be found in the exhibition and discombobulated them even further and created a sort of soft fleshy lamp as well as implemented glowing lights into some of the pieces. All of which create a mild sense of humor, coupled with undeniable weirdness/ grotesqueness that can be found throughout the exhibition. It was here where I found my own personal favorite pieces that the artists created.

Towards the end of the exhibition you become more and more acutely aware of the impact that the disease was having upon her body. The work started to become more reflective upon a life full of hardships that had slowly chipped away which began to make things crumble as a result. It is even more disheartening learning about the lack of notoriety of the artist work in the US and how this retrospective served as a way for rediscovering a talent that challenges the idea of categorizing a said artist into a distinct historical group.

-Alfred Vidaurri

Monday, March 26, 2012

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum




We went to 11 museums: from the Dia Art Foundation located in Beacon in upstate New York to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which we were fortunate enough to be there to see their Biennial. But my favorite museum in New York City remains to be the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.


A little history:

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim. It took Wright 15 years, 700 sketches, and six sets of working drawings to create the museum. On October 21, 1959, ten years after the death of Solomon Guggenheim and six months after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Museum first opened its doors to the general public. The building was the first permanent museum to be built rather than converted from a private house in the United States.


The current exhibitions at the museum ranged from John Chamberlain to Francesca Woodman to Kandinsky. I was least familiar with John Chamberlain’s work. Chamberlain used vintage cars; formerly junk, to create sculptures. The sculptures grew in scale and possessed a newfound gravity. He also created monumental aluminum sculptures, which I found out were based on works that fit in the palm of the hand, which he had been making since the mid-1980s. The retrospective celebrates the remarkable legacy of John Chamberlain.


Now going back to the design and orientation of the museum. This is really why the Guggenheim stands out to me in a city of amazing and unique museums; from the moment you see the structure itself, you are awe-struck. From the street, the building looks like a white ribbon curled into a cylindrical stack, wider at the top than the bottom. Its appearance is in sharp contrast to typically rectangular Manhattan buildings that surround it, a fact relished by Wright, who claimed that his museum would make the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art "look like a Protestant barn." Internally, the viewing gallery forms a helical spiral from the main level up to the top of the building.


This spiral serves not only for design purposes but also as a natural guide for visitors. It is one of the few museums I can honestly say that I have never been lost in. The design allows the viewer to easily interact with the work, without having to think where to walk or ask themselves, “Have I been in this room already?”


The Guggenheim, in my opinion, has overcome many of the design and flow issues I find in most museums in the United States. The only complaint I have is that they did not have more Kandinsky’s!


Update:

Fifty years after the realization of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned design, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrated the golden anniversary of its landmark building with the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009, the 50th anniversary exhibition brought together sixty-four projects designed by one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, including privately commissioned residences, civic and government buildings, religious and performance spaces, as well as unrealized urban mega-structures. Presented on the spiral ramps of Wright’s museum through a range of mediums—including more than 200 original Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, many of which are on view to the public for the first time, as well as newly commissioned models and digital animations—Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward illuminated Wright’s pioneering concepts of space and revealed the architect’s continuing relevance to contemporary design.


-Erin

-Off Schedule, On the Trend- Armory Show




           When I walked into the Armory Show, I did suspect I would be as interested in the art presented as repulsed by the food court like experience. I was right. As I was discovering the different galleries and the artists they represent, I felt like I was in an all you can eat buffet where the caviar and bananas were presented alongside each other for the consumer to consume. At times hard to digest, the sequencing of everything was processed in a gluttonous way.


Progressing through the Armory Show, loaded with the art that was present, much of it was surpassed by the next booth. I wouldn’t say that everything was of the same interest, but moving with a certain speed, with the flow of the quickly increasing crowd, at times I could not remember what I had just seen. To the question ‘what did you like’, I would simply answer, ‘I will take a nap after I digest it all and will get back to you later’. Yes, more than a week after the visit to my first Armory Show, I am still digesting the information with random visual notes about what struck me, either the classical or the ‘new’ art pieces, as the words to describe the experience are slowly trying to emerge.







My perspective on art fairs has been altered. I do love art. In fact, I produce it. Creating it and marketing it are two very different things. It is like two opposing worlds interlinking . The whole point of the market being present at the art fairs is crucial for the art world to be fed. The menu gets overwhelming nonetheless.






So what is the recipe for good and sellable art? Is there one? Some artists are sitting on gold, or actually the market creates value, so the share over the perfect pie is split. Speculation, hypes and classics of contemporary art. The discourses are operating, as good or bad as it might be. I am not sure from which philosophical perspective I should take the art fairs from, but there is for sure issues concerning the relationship with the studio of the artists (the creation or making of art) and the art fairs (simply the market.)

 




How is art informed in art fairs? Is the art actually important? Who comes to see the art work if not with the intention of looking at what sells and for how much? Walking in a museum or gallery space surely brings a different feeling than an art fair does. Do we think about the content of the art piece? What it invokes? Or, simply how much its value can increase? When the art is validated by the art world, simply by being present in art fairs, is it still time to be thinking about what it represents or even being moved by it?





Toward the end of my walk, at which point I was truly fed up, I came across a performance. Marina Abramovic was lying on her “Bed of Human Use.” I was alive again, and amazed. The piece was very interesting and the dynamic with the public, while rather disturbing, was totally working with the scene. There she was, all flesh, breathing under a huge quartzo crystal that could have crushed her head if it would have fallen. Peoples’ reactions were exquisite and fascinating. I am still wondering who took that piece back home for the collection.







I do remember some of my favorite pieces now! I always enjoy seeing Kiki Smith’s work. Its complex simplicity, its inherent beauty, brings me back to my childhood dreams with vivid imagination.





Another piece was a newly discovered artist whose retrospective I had the opportunity and pleasure to see last month at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles: Alina Szapocznikow. Her work was love at first sight.

 


At Volta art fair, I was delighted to see the work of a Montreal-based artist, Sophie Jodoin, whom I have been following for few years. Battat Contemporary Gallery’s booth displayed Jodoin’s work. www.sophiejodoin.com. The Independent was also on my path that weekend in beautiful Chelsea. All these art fairs had the intention of selling art, but they were also a gigantic platform for artists.

The intensity of viewing art was at its paroxysm last week in New York City with 7 days in a row of major art fairs and exhibitions in prominent museums. It actually finished in my case by exhibiting in the International Juried Photography Exhibition at Viridian Artist in Chelsea, curated by Jennifer Blessing (Guggenheim Photography Curator) from March 13th to the 31st. I must admit to the incredible cliché : I love New York (and all it has to offer for the arts.) I did see amazing and inspiring art and was very happy to have my modest part in it.





Sunday, March 25, 2012

LA Trip




LA TripUnder the Big Black Sun —Moca Geffen

The first stop we’ve made in LA is Moca Geffen, for the Under the Big Black Sun show, which is about the west coast art in the 1970s. As an international student barely know about American history and contemporary art history of US, I have been worried if I can get the idea behind the show, or if its too contrived and over whelming to me. Ho

wever, the show seems friendly to the audience. There is no certain designed pathway to tell audience how to experience the exhibition; instead, the space is quite non-directional, in a good way.






I felt that I have freedom to spectate all the memorial art pieces about the age I haven’t been through, and made my own connection between all these feminism, racism, anti-war, and anti-modernism social protest. Especially at a certain time that Occupy movement goes around the country, how the artists at that age using art as a social tool to make a change really addressed reflection of the present. In the way of Pluralism, the curator also give the audience a break between all these depressing, shocking artworks with some peaceful personal landscapes, also gave me a sense of that not all the artists at the time devote themselves into social movement, but trying to escape from the world.

I was impressed that how the sculpture “A world map in Beer bottles” transformed my experiential journey to the international time, with a Tsing Tao Beer bottle to the end. As one of the three big hanging projections, the international news is horizontal reversed, is that related to the possible bias from a single perspective?

Naked Hollywood --- Moca

Hollywood, a paradise where dreams come true, not so many resonates to me though. Impressed with Weegee’s several photos.

Chinatown—Red Cat

Like the performance film, and also enjoy how he recreating the space when he recreates the film “Chinatown”. However, I think how many audiences were in the exhibition in the same time affect the outcome of the experience.

Galleries in Culver City

I brought the question that how could the design of a small exhibition space affecting audiences’ experience with me when I go to Culver City Galleries. I think Brian Bress show in Cherry & Martin Gallery is the most effective one.


When I got into the gallery, there is a full length video projecting on a wall. I felt that is really impressive how the artist divided the space into two parts with the projection wall, and the second parts contains video portraits in a photo frame. With the wall in between, I made so many assumptions how these two bodies of work related to each other, and how the artist wants me to get from this kind of layout.

by Duo

Redcat, Ming Wong's exhibition 'Making Chinatown'






A. Michon

Talk with Dan Cameron










A. Michon

A Visit of The Getty Center








A. Michon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LA trip--endless white wall


A lot of galleries gave me a same feeling. Endless white wall, man-made lighting, no sunlight, fairly cold, with a plastic, paint smell. It’s interesting but also a little bit depressing. Especially when there’s video going on in the space, usually its pitch black except the projector’s light. And maybe just me…I really don’t like it. The smell plus the sound of the projector and the darkness, it just unpleasant for me, I want to escape from that space at once. I wonder if there could be some gallery change those paint smells. And also contents, a lot of contemporary arts, they are quite dark, and negative, just depressing.


Ruya Qian

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

John Divola's Zuma Series, 1977-1978, at MOCA Geffen's, "Under the Big Black Sun


Suzanne Minatra


8 March 2012


Our travels to Los Angeles brought us down from San Francisco just in time for the final day of MOCA Geffen's Pacific Standard Time exhibition, "Under the Big Black Sun." The show was, quite frankly, overwhelmingly huge, with 500 art works from 139 artists. "Under the Big Black Sun" is a survey of California art from the time of Nixon's resignation in 1974to Regan's inauguration in 1981. Rather than being organized chronologically or by media, this show was curated according to theme, showing the turbulent state of the mid to late 1970s.


As I mentioned earlier, the show was massive; I found myself wandering through as if I were in a labyrinth, having completely lost everyone I'd come with. I made my way through gallery after gallery trying to take in as much of the show as possible; there was so much to see and so much ground to cover. just as I felt the museum fatigue settle in and was ready to throw in the towel and take a break I stumbled upon John Divola's peculiar Zuma Series. Divola (b. 1949) is a Los Angeles based Photographer who, with this series, documented the disintegration of the beachfront community Zuma Beach in Malibu between 1977 and 1978. Divola explored abandoned, dilapidated ocean front properties looking for photographic opportunities, sometimes orchestrating his view by applying spray paint to the interiors of the rooms. In his statement about this work, Divola says:


"On initially arriving I would move through the house looking for areas or situations to photograph. If nothing seemed to interest me I would move things around or do some spray painting. The painting was done in much the same way that one might doodle on a piece of paper. At one that point I would return to the camera and explore what ever new potentials existed."


The end results were super saturated images of brilliant seascapes juxtaposed through the broken windows of soon to be demolished prime beachfront real estate.


John Divola, Zuma #25 (1978/2006), from Zuma Series, 1977–78 (http://www.moca.org/black_sun/artwork/john-divola-zuma-beach-1977%E2%80%9378/)


For some time I have been vaguely captivated by Divola's Zuma Series, though, until now, had only seen online reproductions. Online representations of Divola's image do not do then justice at all. His images are mesmerizing, the intense color of the California setting sun draws the viewer in. Furthermore, Divola's images were hung at a size and height that allowed the audience to enter the scene. I, for one, felt as if I were present in the 1970s ramshackle Zuma Beach homes. The Zuma Series was hung on a wall that spawned two galleries, occupying a transition space. Viewing the images in this space felt vaguely odd, I often had to step out of the way of visitors who were moving through the threshold between the two galleries. The feeling was interesting in conjunction with the subject matter of the work, both places felt like places that I shouldn't have been occupying.


John Divola, Zuma #8 (1977/2006), from Zuma Series, 1977–78 (http://www.moca.org/black_sun/artwork/john-divola-zuma-beach-1977%E2%80%9378/)


Though the work was made in the 1970s, the Zuma Series remains especially timely and relevant today. The country is in the middle of a financial crisis, with the sate of the American people Ina constant flux. People must alter their practice in order to fall in line with the progression of current affairs. As such, this is how Divola describes his connection with the Zuma Beach circumstances:


"These photographs are the product of my involvement with an evolving situation. The house evolving in a primarily linear way toward its ultimate disintegration, the ocean and light evolving and changing in a cyclical and regenerative manner. My acts, my painting, ,y photographing, my considering, are part of, not separate from, this process of evolution and change. These photographs are not so much about this process as they are remnants from it. My participation was not so much one of intellectual consideration as one of visceral involvement."


Might Divola's images be visual evidence of the collapse of the American Dream? He presents the ideal lifestyle, a room with a view, yet while the view remains as picturesque as ever, the room has fallen to ruin.


John Divola, Zuma #9 (1978/2006), from Zuma Series, 1977–78 (http://www.moca.org/black_sun/artwork/john-divola-zuma-beach-1977%E2%80%9378/)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Temporality

Our first day as a class in Los Angeles, February 13, 2012…first place on our itinerary: MOCA-Geffen. It was the last day of the exhibition: Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974 – 1981.

Below you can read about the exhibition, this is a screenshot taken from MOCA-Geffen’s website.

You can find many pieces of artwork from the exhibition on their website, included are the titles, artist name and description. Below I have chosen 3 of my favorites.

Rupert Garcia, Human Rights Day, 1975–7

Chicano artist Rupert García put his intense graphic work in the service of leftist politics. Influenced by commercial art, but rejecting Pop art’s banal imagery in favor of politically charged subject matter, Garcia used found images from mass media sources to boldly denounce global injustice and violence in this work.


Suzanne Lacy, Three Weeks in May, 1977


In May 1977, Suzanne Lacy organized an “expanded performance” over the course of three weeks to raise awareness among Los Angeles inhabitants of the frequency of assaults on women citywide. The project opened on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1977, and included performances and installations as well as non-art events such as speeches, interviews, self-defense demonstrations, and speak-outs. On this map of Los Angeles, installed in the mall outside City Hall, Lacy stenciled the word “RAPE” in red on the approximate locations attacks reported to police during the three weeks of the project. (At the close of Three Weeks in May, ninety rapes had been reported.) The artist later stated that “if rape was practically a household experience [she should] make its name a household word.”

Chris Burden, The Reason for the Neutron Bomb, 1979

Chris Burden shifted his practice from performance to large-scale installation during the late 1970s. With a matchstick placed atop a nickel representing one tank, The Reason for the Neutron Bomb recreates the fifty thousand-strong Soviet tank division in an overwhelming yet orderly display. Burden conceived this work in response to the heated debates about nuclear proliferation occurring during the late 1970s. Concern about the Soviet army’s superiority over Western European forces was the justification given by the U.S. military for the stockpile of nuclear weapons. A potent symbol of Cold War international power dynamics, the installation reflects the artist’s abiding fascination with military weaponry and political might.


We also visited RedCat Gallery during our visit to Los Angeles. Ming Wong created a series of videos and scenic backdrops that centered on the making of Roman Polanski’s 1974 film Chinatown. Shot on location in the gallery, Wong’s reinterpretation, Making Chinatown, transforms the exhibition space into a studio backlot and examines the original film’s constructions of language, performance and identity.

We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with the curator while we there. An interesting point that he brought up was the temporality of the project. And I wondered:
Is that something to take into consideration when developing an exhibition in this day and age?

Let me explain this further…Ming Wong’s exhibition was in short created to be easily recreated. Due to the size of each of the backdrops, it would have been more time consuming and expensive to take down, mail and put back together at its final destination than it was to simply reconstruct the exhibition at the new location. This being said I can’t help but think is this something artist’s need to take into consideration when creating their artwork? How important is it that your work easily be recreated or constructed? Just some food for thought. I myself am still pondering the importance and how final presentation in general plays a role in the creation of artwork.

-Erin