Monday, March 12, 2012


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.


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