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ARCHITECTURE, DISPATCHES ART, MUSIC, ARCHITECTURE, FILM, SHOPPING, NEWS AND THINGS TO MAKE AND DO… ART, MUSIC, ARCHITECTURE, FILM, SHOPPING, NEWS AND THINGS TO MAKE AND DO…
TALes from The ciTy: Los Angeles
words HOLLY MYERS The ciTy of Los AngeLes has a LA is awash in contemporary art, to
complicated relationship with the extent that even city officials
institutional infrastructure. It (with the none-too-subtle nudging
baffles outsiders, as I was reminded of Eli Broad) have begun to take
one recent evening while chatting note, coveting the prospect of
with a New York-based artist who tourist dollars. But this question
was looking to move here. She liked of infrastructure is tricky. The
LA, she said. She was intrigued by LA artworld was built on schools,
what she knew of the artworld and artists and galleries, in that order
receptive to my inveterate boosterism – all highly individualistic entities
– until, as is almost always the case connected by a loose, primarily social
in these conversations, the topic of network across vast stretches of
the automobile arose. Then her face geography. Many have found the bulk
hardened a little. The automobile of their financial success elsewhere,
brought to mind the freeway, which in New York and Europe, and few are
brought to mind sprawl, which brought accustomed to citywide thinking. Can
to mind the disconcerting absence of LA support an art fair? Does it need
a city centre, which betrayed the one? No one seems to really know.
persistence of a deeper scepticism The response to this year’s Art LA,
about LA’s cultural potential. How can judging from my own informal exit
the city sustain a serious art scene, poll, was mixed: great galleries (the
she seemed to want to ask, with no local selection was particularly
Met, no Chelsea and no subway in which strong); dumpy location; tentative
to stage quirky guerrilla performance turnout (it rained); hit-and-miss
pieces or install placards printed work. As for BCAM, its debut was well
with inspiring fragments of poetry? attended but widely panned in the
press – building (by Renzo Piano) and
It’s a valid question, for all its art (selections drawn from the Broads’
muted snobbery (and inaccuracy: we personal collection) alike. ‘Mostly
do actually have a subway), and the exhibition just looks expensive’,
one that many in LA are currently Christopher Knight wrote in the LA
attempting to confront, judging Times. ‘Really, really expensive.’
from the institutional growth-spurt
the artworld stumbled through this In both cases, however, even the
season. In January, Art LA staged critics are notably optimistic. Two
its fourth and most conspicuously works stand out from the melee as
determined bid yet for the respect particularly auspicious. For Art LA,
of the international fair circuit. the Italian-born LA-based artist Piero
Golia smashed a 35-foot bus into
Bortolami’s 20-foot stall, right in
Can LA support an art fair?
the middle of the convention centre
floor. And in the courtyard of LACMA’s
Does it need one?
new entrance, blazingly visible from
Wilshire Boulevard, Chris Burden
has installed 202 antique cast-iron
street lamps, all painted grey and
With February came the opening of the arranged in an even grid. Both are
Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) bold, visionary works that not only
at LACMA, which gave this encyclopedic grasp the nature of the city but
institution a 58,000-square-foot stake also seem to work in concert with it,
in the contemporary art world virtually marshalling its own energies. The
overnight. Across town, MOCA mounted an nature of LA’s urban topography – the
exhibition of its permanent collection automobile, the street, the freeway,
that underscored the unfortunate fact the sprawl – has often been viewed,
of its having nowhere to actually at least by outsiders, as a kind of
display that collection on a regular impediment to soul, and a hurdle
basis. A driving hunger for real estate the artworld may never overcome.
has continued to shape the commercial These works suggest something quite
sector as well, with a striking the opposite – an insight that LA’s
number of galleries – Regen Projects, curators, museum directors, fair
Peres Projects, Bonelli Contemporary, organisers, public officials and other
ACME and Marc Foxx – having opened tenders of infrastructure would do
or soon to open second locations. well to remember moving forward.
ArTrEvIEw 44
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