LOS ANGELES — Last week, the Getty Foundation announced that it would be awarding 45 grants amounting to over $5 million for the next Pacific Standard Time (PST), a multi-venue initiative taking place at institutions all over Southern California supported by the foundation. Scheduled to open in 2024, the upcoming edition of the massive region-wide initiative will focus on the intersection of art and science. The proposed exhibitions explore such themes as climate change, environmental justice, AI, science fiction, and indigenous systems of knowledge. These grants are meant to support research, while a second round of funding towards exhibition implementation will be announced at a later date.
The Pacific Standard Time Initiative began in 2011 with its first iteration surveying postwar art in Los Angeles up until 1980. Covering everything from LA minimalism and Pop, to African American Assemblage, feminist art at the Woman’s Building, and the Chicano Art Movement, the first PST featured over 68 exhibitions made possible with $11 million in grants from the foundation. A slimmed-down version in 2013 focused on modern architecture in Los Angeles, followed by another expansive edition in 2017, PST: LA/LA, that looked at the crosscurrents between art in Latin America and Latinx art produced in Los Angeles, from the splendor of Teotihuacan, to a survey of radical women artists throughout Latin America. The foundation awarded $16.3 million in grants to approximately 80 institutions from Los Angeles to San Diego to Palm Springs.
Given the cross-disciplinary focus of the next PST, participating institutions were forced to take slightly different approaches in crafting their proposals. “In looking at the projects, we look at their teams,” Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation, told Hyperallergic. “So many of them include scientists, from physicists and chemists, to biologists and environmental engineers.” She explained that they have organized a curator convening before every PST, where all the curators from each institution can come together to discuss their research and share ideas. With this edition, they’ll also be holding a convening with the scientists, most likely virtually, to discuss what they’ve been working on.
Weinstein says they weren’t sure what to expect before receiving proposals, but were delighted by the diversity of the exhibitions. “As with all PSTs, the excitement is the variety of approaches. We never know what we’re going to get,” she said. “Their responses were extraordinary … They really rose to the occasion.”
Some of the exhibitions will focus on scientific histories, such as Cosmologies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which looks at systems of cosmology from around the world, from the Neolithic period to present. And Wonders of Creation at the San Diego Museum of Art explores the intersection of art and science in the Islamic world since the seventh century. Those tackling environmental justice include Sinks: Places We Call Home at Self Help Graphics, based on research into pollution sites near the studios of artists Beatriz Jaramillo and Maru García, specifically at the Exide Battery plant in Vernon and the former Athens Tank Farm site in Willowbrook. Likewise, at the Vincent Price Museum of Art, Carolina Caycedo shares her investigations into the struggle for sustainable water use across the Americas.
Indigenous knowledge sources and art forms are the subject of a group of shows including Indigenous Futures at the Autry Museum of the American West, which features Native artists who use the trope of Western sci-fi as a form of empowerment. Cultures of Corn at the Fowler spans 8,000 years of art and artifacts related to maize, from Olmec jade tools to contemporary works by Beatriz Cortez and Judy Baca.
Finally, several shows look to the future, such as the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)’s Planet City, which imagines a single, sustainable city for the entire world’s population, and The Rise of Cyberpunk and Digital Dystopias at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which traces the development of cyberpunk phenomenon through films like Blade Runner and Akira as well as under-appreciated films from around the world. A complete list of awarded grants can be found here.
For the organizers, the initiative comes at just the right time, when global environmental and health crises and an alarming distrust of science are both growing threats.
“Pacific Standard Time gives us the chance to increase public awareness about these breakthroughs in the face of rising skepticism of scientific truth by considering their broader artistic and cultural dimensions,” Juna Kollmeier, a prominent staff astronomer at the Carnegie Observatories, said in the Getty’s release. Kollmeier is participating in LACMA’s Cosmologies show as well as Seeing for Yourself: The Art and Science of Visualizing Hidden Worlds at the Huntington Library.
Weinstein hopes that the next PST will not only produce engaging exhibitions, but ones that will have a meaningful and concrete impact as well. “We hope to see how the process will imagine other futures, expand our idea of what change can be, and help us get to real solutions,” she said.