LOS ANGELES — When the collective Durden and Ray presented We Are Here / Here We Are on May 16, the street landscape of Los Angeles looked decidedly different than it has in the weeks since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Empty of traffic (and not yet full of protesters), the world felt surreal enough with only a global pandemic at the forefront of our minds. Still, even without the knowledge of what was to come, the strangeness of the lack of cars in a city almost defined by them makes an eerily calm setting for the exhibition’s diverse collection of artworks.
Gathered together under the premise of “our innate desire for connectivity through sensation,” some of the artworks on display reflect just that. Andrew Phillip Cortes’s “Para el Barrio (For the Neighborhood)” (2020), for instance, takes a defunct Payphone, a form of telecommunication some may be surprised to learn is still in active use, and covers it with a tactile mosaic of glass, mirror, and paint. Cortes points to our collective ability to transmute the aesthetics of our communal environment — beautifying it for own sakes.
Another artist, Jaklin Romine, uses the stay-at-home orders as a backdrop to reflect on the everyday reality of disabled people in her ongoing performance piece ACCESS DENIED. For the piece, Romine charts multiple art world locations she cannot go to because of their inaccessibility to wheelchair users like herself and invites viewers to visit these locales. In doing so, the viewer becomes part of the artwork in the sense that they are, albeit temporarily, also denied access to them, acting as a proxy for Romine’s experience as they use their own bodies as an extension of hers.
Other artworks have adapted in reaction to the protests of police brutality and systemic racism. Brenna and Nancy Ivanhoe’s “behind under around” (2020) showcases a vivid collection of paintings both discrete from and incorporated into the home’s architecture that reflect the beauty of the surrounding garden. Normally this would present as a relatively apolitical artwork save for the fact that the artists have added a “Black Lives Matter” sign to the yard, voicing their support.
Further east, Makenzie Goodman and Adam Stacey’s “A Shrine to the Old West” is almost indistinguishable from the actual trash that surrounds it, a loaded context for the framed portrait of John Wayne that serves as the piece’s centerpiece. Wayne, an icon of American masculinity, Western expansion, and old Hollywood, famously stated his alliance with white supremacist ideology in a 1971 Playboy interview. The “fallen shrine” begs the question: Is Wayne and the ideologies he represents reflected upon with nostalgia or condemnation in the hearts and minds of American citizens? If our current state of policing and protest is any indication, it seems the answer is both.
We Are Here / Here We Are continues through Saturday, June 20 (dawn to dusk every day, unless otherwise noted) at various locations around Los Angeles County.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.
Ten Painful Stories of the Dutch Colonial Slave Trade
The Rijksmuseum’s traveling show strives to remind us that we are all, in some way, a part of this chapter of human history, whose legacy continues today.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Textured Histories at Shiprock Santa Fe
The Santa Fe gallery features Indigenous textiles and jewelry from the early 19th century to today.
Renaissance Portrait of “Ugly Duchess” Likely Depicts a Man
A curator at London’s National Gallery believes the subject of painter Quinten Massys’s painting “is most likely a he.”
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Hokusai’s “Great Wave” Makes a Splash at Auction
An edition of the iconic woodblock print broke records when it sold for $2.8M this week.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?