Why am I in LA for a month? Part of me has no idea, but the other part is very clear on the intent of trying to learn about and to understand, in a slightly more then just tourist way, about the art world here. I have been going to museums, galleries (large and small) and most interestingly for me (always the most interesting) is doing studio visits here. Most of the studio visits are with what are coined “emerging” artists. I hate that term, but yeah, most are younger artists but there have been other more established artists as well. The artists’ age range from 20 (yes, 20) to I’d guess around 35ish. In addition to the artists visited, I have had conversations both concentrated and chitchat about art, culture, and the general pastiche of our current state. Below are a few themes, ideas, and words that have cropped up a lot during these visits and conversations. These types of overlaps happen everywhere but I have never experienced such a consistency of iterations of a same thought/investigation within such disparate groups of people. People (artists), who all live in LA but seem to not (yet) know each other. This reflects LA in many ways, both the good and bad of intent and purposes of networking.
2D/3D – So many artists I visited have works that address issues of two dimensional, (more specifically the concept of an image and how images are disseminated and what that implies in the world of the internet and culture at large and the production of this), in conversation with three dimensionality in physical form. This is a seemingly obvious point of focus in our right-now-moment but the variances of expressing and confronting this is wide ranging. There is the use of 3D printing, modeling, stand in, traditional sculpture, vague installation and a variety of other means to manifest this. What makes it interesting though is not just in the resultant ‘work’ but more the process of the question. The 2D/3D focus is not about one versus another, about contrast or about highlight. It is about the question of this thing and the work produced from this question. It is not a solution but an embodiment, in various ways, of the question. Also fantastic to see is the rigor of the object making and image making. There is a serious traditionalist process of creating what can only be called source material for creating the final work. This is very interesting to see. 2D/3D is more about a conceptual frame to work within then to just reflect upon and this makes the conversations and the art being produced through this frame fresh and highly engaging.
The Words “Network” and “Concept” – Referring to the above regarding conceptual frame, the use of language and the way of talking about ideas is certainly shifting. It has been for a while, but now it feels less as a demarcation of sub-aesthetic groups and more a general bank of contemporary linguistics. The use of the words, “network” and “concept” by artists and those thinking about art, deviate from what one may first assume. They are stand-ins for mental processes as well as end points. “Network” is used as an information and material source as well as a systemization process of organizing and creating. The use of “concept” also has this inverted multiplicity of use. It is the thought but also the stand in for a larger archetype and also is in itself the tool to investigate this archetype. There is also an increase of technical or the employment of more technical, scientific, mathematical, word use to speak of work. In many instances this language and the way processes and “concept(s)” are discussed is the primary form. This can feel at times a grasp; a veil of intellectualism in a way but it is in many instances brilliant in its necessity.
Ready Made – Duchamp, Duchamp. I have said it entirely too many times but the legacy and influence of this man is as verdant now as ever before. People are still using the idea of the ready made because it is a concept, not a specific aesthetic. The world is object filled and the implications of what objects are in form and in meaning (economy, culture and all else) is still ripe. I am noticing how both images and objects are being abstracted more though. There is a desire to take something and to leave its reference but then to also distort it. This I have seen being done by repetition, arrangement, and re-appropriated use. This also has a, ‘been there, done that’ feel, but here it feels more advanced and more complex. There is a ‘what is it’ – ness to these works in material and to the idea behind the work. The selection of an object, material, substance and the display of it are also extremely considered and essential.
Containers – Lots of container and home goods are being used. Things like mugs, bowls, and food storage items seem to be abounding in LA. The idea of this ready made form with ready made reference is interesting to see in such an everywhere way. Why they are so prevalent, I’m not sure, but I have seen it a lot and in a variety of ways, and each is so aesthetically unique it is surprising that this object of domestic background noise is such a fruitful point of reference.