What is an L.A. artist? Hammer Museum answers with its ‘Made in L.A.’ biennial lineup
The Hammer Museum announced the lineup for its third “Made in L.A.” biennial on Tuesday evening, and perhaps the most interesting through-line is the lack of any theme imposed by curators Aram Moshayedi and Hamza Walker.
Instead, the shape of the exhibition opening in June will be formed largely by artists who resist or defy categorization, challenging notions of what an L.A. artist is.
“We were simply operating within the already given theme of ‘Made in Los Angeles’ -- to take that at face value and to understand that within that, that announces a certain kind of heterogenic activity in the locale,” said Walker, director of education and associate curator at the Renaissance Society, a contemporary art museum in Chicago.
The Hammer biennial, this year carrying the full name “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only,” showcases emerging and underrepresented artists in a variety of disciplines including sculpture, painting, film and video, fashion, music, literature and performance.
Over 12 months, Moshayedi and Walker visited about 200 studios in Southern California, roaming as far south as San Diego, as far north as Ventura and as far east as Joshua Tree. They whittled participants down to 26 -- the slimmest “Made in L.A.” exhibition yet. The museum’s 2012 biennial included 60 artists; its 2014 event featured 35. But paring back participants was a purposeful less-is-more strategy.
Each of those 26 contributions by artists are quite deep and heavy and substantive.
Hammer Museum curator Aram Moshayedi
“Twenty-six is seemingly small in relationship to previous iterations of ‘Made in L.A.,’” said Moshayedi, a Hammer curator. “But each of those 26 contributions by artists are quite deep and heavy and substantive. So often with these biennials, the ambition gets confused with the addition of more and more artists, and we really wanted to hone in and concentrate to create mini exhibitions within the exhibition -- everything from condensed monographic surveys to presentations of multi-year projects.”
During their search for artists, Moshayedi and Walker sought diversity. Participants hail from Lebanon, Colombia, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil and Australia, among others. The range of genres can be seen in performance artist Adam Linder’s site-specific dances and trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith’s exhibition of drawn and painted scores produced from 1967 to 2014. In literature, visual artist-poet Dena Yago contributed an original poem to the exhibition catalog, and minimalist poet Aram Saroyan wrote the subtitle for the exhibition, “a, the, though, only.”
Los Angeles Times photographers document the year in arts and culture.(Los Angeles Times)
When the Mariinsky Ballet performed “Cinderella” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Oct. 8, even the wondrous Diana Vishneva as Cinderella couldn’t bring unity to the movement, but she danced with flawless, fearless authority. Read more >>(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins leaves a rehearsal of his play “Appropriate,” opening Oct. 4 at the Mark Taper Forum, to eat first with a reporter, then later with his agent and some unspecified Hollywood people, who presumably hope to lure him away from the field and city where he has experienced meteoric success in the last five years. Read more >>(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Kerstin Anderson takes charge of Maria von Trapp with a spirit so joyful, a physicality so lithe and coltish, and a soprano so flawlessly soaring that only Frau Schraeder, Capt. Von Trapp’s jilted fiancée (Teri Hansen), could possibly resist her charm. Read the Oct. 1 review >>(Los Angeles Times)
Soprano Abigail Fischer performs Oct. 7 in the opera “Songs from the Uproar” at REDCAT in Los Angeles.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Moisés Kaufman’s muscular revival of “Bent,” which played at the Mark Taper Forum, opening on July 26, renders what many had written off as a parochial drama about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany into a gripping tale of love, courage and identity. Read review >>(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Malaviki Sarukkai performing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on July 19, 2015. Sarukkai is the best-known exponent of South Indian classical dance.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Bramwell Tovey conducts the L.A. Phil with pianist Garrick Ohlsson in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl on July 14, 2015.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Argentine dancer Herman Cornejo performs in the West Coast premiere of “Tango y Yo” as part of the Latin portion of BalletNow.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Jake Shears plays Greta in Martin Sherman’s play “Bent” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles through Aug. 23, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Dancers rehearse a one-night-only performance choregraphed by Raiford Rogers, one of L.A.'s most-noted choreographers. This year the dance will be to a new original score by Czech composer Zbynek Mateju.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley in Los Angeles on July 9, 2015.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Mia Sinclair Jenness, left, Mabel Tyler and Gabby Gutierrez alternate playing the title role in the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre. The three are shown during a day at Santa Monica Pier on June 16, 2015.(Christina House / For The Times)
American Contemporary Ballet Company members Zsolt Banki and Cleo Magill perform a dance routine originally done by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This performance was presented as part of “Music + Dance: L.A.” on Friday, June 19, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Miguel, a Grammy-winning guitarist, producer, singer and lyricist, is photographed in San Pedro on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. His new album “Wildheart,” explores L.A.'s “weird mix of hope and desperation.”(Christina House / For The Times)
Los Angeles-born artist Mark Bradford is photographed in front of “The Next Hot Line.” This piece is part of his show “Scorched Earth,” installed at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, June 11, 2015.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles Opera concluded its season with “The Marriage of Figaro,” with Roberto Tagliavini as Figaro and Pretty Yende as Susanna, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
“Trinket,” a monumental installation by Newark-born, Chicago-based artist William Pope.L, features an American flag that is 16 feet tall and 45 feet long. The work is on display at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA through June 28.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Alex Knox, from left, Carolyn Ratteray, Lynn Milgrim and Paige Lindsey White in “Pygmalion” in spring 2015 at the Pasadena Playhouse.(Mariah Tauger / For The Times)
On March 17, Google celebrated the addition of more than 5,000 images to its Google Street Art project with a launch party at the Container Yard in downtown Los Angeles.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Ric Salinas, left, Herbert Siguenza and Richard Montoya, of the three-man Latino theater group Culture Clash, brought their “Chavez Ravine: An L.A. Revival” to the Kirk Douglas Theatre to mark the group’s 30th anniversary. The play ran from Feb. 4 through March 1.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
“We thought about the subtitle as a space to commission a new poem,” Moshayedi says. “We’re also in conversation with him about some kind of performative element that would be in conjunction with the title.”
One key exhibition won’t take place at the museum at all -- and you may or may not be able to see it. Artist Todd Gray will create a memorial to his late friend, the Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, by wearing Manzarek’s clothes, in his everyday life, for the duration of “Made in L.A.”
“It’s a living sculpture,” Walker says.
The idea is meant to challenge notions of ephemerality, as well as what constitutes a museum space.
Guthrie Lonergan will show a Web-based project on the Hammer’s site involving other artists’ websites and mission statements; the point is to explore professional presentations of artists online.
Among the new bodies of work and commissions in the biennial: film and video installations by Kenneth Tam, Martine Syms and Shahryar Nashat. Other new projects by emerging artists of note include installations by Rafa Esparza and Lauren Davis Fisher that will change during the exhibition.
The biennial also will recontextualize the work of better known artists. It will present art star Sterling Ruby in a new light with a different body of work -- an installation of wrought-iron work tables from the artist’s studio that references labor movements. Kenzi Shiokava, 78, and Huguette Caland, 85, the oldest artists in the exhibition, will exhibit condensed surveys of their work. And cinematographer Arthur Jafa, who has worked with Spike Lee, will show a collection of mixed media collage look books that he created while working on films during the last 15 years.
“‘Made in L.A. 2016' illuminates what is so exciting and distinctive about L.A. as a cutting-edge art center right now,” Hammer Director Ann Philbin said. “It’s truly remarkable how so many artists -- from vastly different backgrounds and disciplines -- have gathered here to make this such a vital destination for contemporary creative voices.”
“Made in L.A. 2016” will be on view June 12 to Aug. 28. The full list of biennial participants is below.
• Kelly Akashi (b. 1983, Los Angeles)
• Huguette Caland (b. 1931, Beirut, Lebanon)
• Eckhaus Latta (est. 2011; Zoe Latta, b. 1987, Santa Cruz; Mike Eckhaus, b. 1987, New York)
• Rafa Esparza (b. 1981, Los Angeles)
• Lauren Davis Fisher (b. 1984, Cambridge, Mass.)
• Todd Gray (b. 1954, Los Angeles)
• Joel Holmberg (b. 1982, Bethesda, Md.)
• Margaret Honda (b. 1961, San Diego)
• Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Miss.)
• Labor Link TV (est. 1988; Fred Lonidier, b. 1942, Lakeview, Ore.)
• Laida Lertxundi (b. 1981, Bilbao, Spain)
• Adam Linder (b. 1983, Sydney, Australia)
• Guthrie Lonergan (b. 1984, Los Angeles)
• Rebecca Morris (b.1969, Honolulu)
• Shahryar Nashat (b. 1975, Geneva)
• Silke Otto-Knapp (b.1970, Osnabrück, Germany)
• Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984, Bogotá, Colombia)
• Sterling Ruby (b. 1972, Bitburg, Germany)
• Aram Saroyan (b. 1943, New York)
• Kenzi Shiokava (b. 1938, São Paulo, Brazil)
• Daniel R. Small (b.1984, Centralia, Ill.)
• Wadada Leo Smith (b.1941, Leland, Miss.)
• Martine Syms (b. 1988, Los Angeles)
• Kenneth Tam (b. 1982, New York)
• Mark Verabioff (b. 1963, Kingston, Canada)
• Dena Yago (b. 1988, New York)
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