Art Review: Nate Page at Machine Project

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The Echo Park-based art space/collective Machine Project has done its share of meddling in recent years with the form and function of other people’s buildings: planting musicians in the parking garage of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; orchestrating a sonic bison stampede through a dinner event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver; installing ping-pong tables on the mezzanine of the Hammer Museum, and so forth.

On occasion, however, the tables are turned and the modest Alvarado Street storefront that remains Machine’s home base undergoes the meddling of one of its artists. Such is the case with Nate Page’s “Storefront Plaza,” an architecturally ambitious installation that effectively retracts the façade of the storefront 20 feet into the heart of the main space.

The effect isn’t as radical as one might expect, though it carries a number of compelling implications. Rather than drawing the street into the gallery, blurring the line between public and private, it seems to carve out a separate enclave, technically public but functionally — or at least psychologically — private. The effect of the change, in other words, is less likely to be felt by any passerby than it is those familiar enough with the nature of Machine to step up into the enclave on their own accord. It feels, indeed, less like a plaza than a stage — and from certain angles even a fishbowl.


It is an intriguing development for an institution highly conscious of the line between participation and performance. Like any architectural development, however, its character is largely conditional, sure to emerge only gradually as the space is utilized over the course of the next two months of Machine Project programming. [For the record, 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4: An earlier version of this post failed to credit Suzanne Wu along with Machine Project for the above image.]

--Holly Myers

Machine Project, 1200-D North Alvarado Street, Los Angeles, (213) 483-8761, through January 2012. Open for events and by appointment (though the Plaza is open to the street most working hours).

Above: Nate Page’s ‘Storefront Plaza.’ Credit: Machine Project/Suzanne Wu