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Review: ‘Womxn in Windows,’ a Chinatown video art show made for this moment

Video artist Ja'Tovia Gary's "An Ecstatic Experience" plays in a Chung King Road storefront.
Video artist Ja’Tovia Gary’s “An Ecstatic Experience” plays in a Chung King Road storefront as part of this year’s “Womxn in Windows” exhibition in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.
(Douglas Fenton)

Although it debuted last year, the annual exhibition “Womxn in Windows” feels made for our socially distant moment. Organized loosely around the theme of spirituality, this year’s show consists of 10 works by eight female artists and filmmakers playing 24 hours a day in storefront windows on the walking street Chung King Road in Chinatown. No indoor spaces, physical contact or appointments required.

In this environment, the most successful works are the most visually arresting. Ja’tovia Gary’s “An Ecstatic Experience” combines archival footage, contemporary scenes of protests and violence, and hand-painted abstractions to explore how turning inward in faith has been a survival mechanism for Black people in the Americas since the beginning. The piece finds a holiness in resistance, whether mental, spiritual or physical.

An image from "Aurora," Everlane Moraes' piece in the "Womxn in Windows" exhibition on view 24/7.
An image from “Aurora,” Everlane Moraes’ piece in the “Womxn in Windows” exhibition on view 24/7.
(Natalia Medina / Everlane Moraes )

Another standout is Brazilian artist Everlane Moraes’ “Aurora,” a quiet meditation on the stages of life and their attendant glories, desires and disappointments through mostly silent portraits of three Black Cuban women of different ages. Carefully composed in high-contrast black and white, this intimate piece finds a poetic beauty in the passage of time.

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Also striking are three short, sharp works by Lebanese artist Rémie Akl. Starring herself, these rapid-fire videos assert a strong, proud, unapologetic Arab and female identity, exploring gender relations, political hypocrisy and corruption. They are brief but dense; you might have to watch each one more than once.

Getty’s interactive database “12 Sunsets” documents artist Ed Ruscha’s photographic journeys from the beach to downtown from 1965 to 2007. It’s a trip.

Sealed behind glass, all the works in the show feel muted. You access the audio by scanning a QR code on your phone. Once an audio file loads, you need to sync it manually to the time code displayed on each screen. This is awkward, and my sound was off, creating another layer of disconnection. Still, the format has its charms: The interactions between the videos, the colorful storefronts and the reflections in the glass create surprising, unintended textures.

Lebanese artist Rémie Akl, seen in her video installation in the Chung King Road exhibition "Womxn in Windows."
(Sharon Mizota)
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The venue might not be ideal, but “Womxn in Windows” brings a diverse set of compelling works into free public view. It celebrates not only the resilience of women, in particular women of color, but also the resilience of all of us, as we continue to beam messages to one another on screens that both connect and separate.

The show also features works by Kilo Kish, Kya Lou, Sylvie Weber, Rikkí Wright and Christine Yuan, and it’s simultaneously on view in New York, London and Shanghai. The videos also can be seen online, where each work is available in turn for a few days starting Sunday.

'Womxn in Windows'

Where: Chung King Road, Los Angeles

When: 24/7 through Nov. 15

Admission: Free

Info: www.womxninwindows.com


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