Thursday and Friday and autobiography of sorts

Erlaea Maneros Zabala has a solo exhibition opening at REDCAT this Thursday, September 15. Maneros has shown twice previously in Los Angeles, once at Redling and once at FOCA. I do not know anything about this new show, but I trust from past experience that it will be interesting. Maybe after it’s been up for a while we can talk about it? In fact, if you see Erlea Maneros Zabala at REDCAT and have some thoughts on the work, send me an email – [email protected] – maybe we can work something out. We’ve got the entire web at our disposal and all the tools that WordPress has to offer – I’d love to get some conversations going.

Put on your wig hat, grab your no-panty-granny, apply heavy eyeliner and get ready for fun: Friday starts another weekend-long art bacchanal.

Miss Thanatogenous and Mr. Joyboy exchange pleasantries over corpses, or “Loved Ones” in Tony Richardson’s film of Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One: An American Tragedy and Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death.

And here the demure Amy Thanatogenous meets Joyboy’s mom: “Mother’s little Joyboy has piggie, piggie, Mother’s little Joyboy has piggie for mom! Help yourself Amy, we don’t stand on ceremony around here.”

And still and again I digress from my stated interest: art in Los Angeles. What is to become of me?

First off, Cameron Crone – when we talked yesterday, Dashiel Hammet is the writer I wanted to remember, especially his short stories. Secondly – David has been talking about Tony Richardson’s The Loved One for as long as I’ve known him. Fourteen years and only now it has occured to me that YouTube might have samples. Duh. Enjoy.


Workspace, The Land Before Time opens Friday, Se[tember 16. Work by Erich Bollman, Samantha Contis and Nick Lowe, curated by David Gilbert.

Image: “Untitled”, Nick Lowe, 2011, Charcoal and Pastel on Newsprint, 36″ x 24″

I think you need and want to see this show. Really. Contis is new to me, here’s a link to her website. Pretty intriguing, it makes me want to see more. Bollman and Lowe are slightly more elusive, webwise. I’ve seen work by each before and if you’ve been paying attention in LA for a few years then you have too. Come see more on Friday.

I am very comfortable cutting and pasting curator Benjamin Lord’s wonderful prose straight from the Human Resources Upcoming webpage. I am hopeful that Lord will not mind, as I haven’t yet seen the show I cannot add anything and between you and me – once in a while I suspect that readers (meaning you and you) will not follow a link outside. Check out the Human Resources website and then the show, off you go now!

Eros And Civilization

September 16 – October 7, 2011

Opening reception: Friday, September 16, 7-10 PM

Heather Cantrell
Dawn Kasper
Tricia Lawless Murray
Davida Nemeroff
Amy Sampson

Curated by Benjamin Lord

Eros And Civilization gathers together the work of five female artists based in Los Angeles who use photography to explore the relationship between desire, power, and the act of looking. Where classical theories of art associate femininity primarily with the power of seduction, these artists explore an active female observer that negotiates a complex, polymorphous range of positions between the liberated post-feminist subject, the objectively distanced genderless observer, and the subjected sex object.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Herbert Marcuse’s famous book, a critique of Freud that became a philosophical touchstone of the New Left, and of the 60s counterculture in general. Marcuse broadly argued that Freud’s separation of the libido and the repressive superego was oversimple, and that Eros was not merely a chaotic but rather a constructive force. In Marcuse’s vision, it was the task of classical art to orchestrate a return of the repressed, not only on the individual but also on the generic-historical level. “The imagination shapes the ‘unconscious memory’ of the liberation that failed, of the promise that was betrayed.” But in the era of capitalism’s highly structured exchanges, Marcuse argues, it is not enough for art to espouse a merely uninhibited or utopian pre-genital sexuality. In order to negate the unfreedom of capitalism, it is paradoxically necessary to at first represent that very unfreedom within the artistic work. Writing in 1955, he claimed that “at the present stage, in the period of total mobilization, even this highly ambivalent opposition [that of catharsis] seems no longer viable. Art survives only where it cancels itself, where it saves its substance by denying its traditional form and thereby denying reconcilation…”

A half century later, these aesthetic theories have percolated into the mainstream of artistic practice. In wildly disparate fashion, each of the artists in this exhibition employ a creative strategy that can be described as an oscillation between power and subjection, in which utopic fantasies of liberation are tempered and sustained by darker fantasies of subjection and unfreedom. These artists take up the reality principle of the photographic camera, which instantly sketches the known surfaces of things, and collide it with deeply personal, unstable, and hermetic realms of uncivilized fantasy, which the camera by its very nature ultimately refuses to be fully reconciled with. This failed reconcilation becomes an aesthetic success, however, to the extent that it presents a true image of the our own civilization.

Within the exhibition:

Heather Cantrell, known for her photographic portraiture, will debut The Looker, her first video. The piece broadly alludes to the famous sequence in Antonioni’s film Blow-up, in which a female model is ravished by a male photographer, and photography becomes a substitute for sex. In Cantrell’s scenario, however, it is the female who controls the camera. The artist (and her “double,” a friend who stands in for her at one point) unfold a scenario in which the female photographer directs and controls a male model, played by Cantrell’s real-life fiancé.

Dawn Kasper will show a new photographic diptych. Kasper has described the two dimly lit images as existing in relationship to an intimate dreamlike state of consciousness but also as an implied image diary, referencing the passage of time in monotonous day to day living.  As inspiration for this piece, she references a passage from Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents: “the struggle between human instincts and the conscience of repression (superego) which is self-repressing trying to follow society’s mores and norms…”

Tricia Lawless Murray will exhibit an installation of photographs that explore the theme of masochism. Harshly lit images of the artist’s bruised body are shown alongside landscapes and interiors, creating a fractured tapestry that depicts a broken narrative addressing sexuality, desire and loss.

Davida Nemeroff’s new work explores the nature of spectatorship through the thematic device of the gorilla habitat at the Los Angeles Zoo. Large scale color photographs made with a consumer camera are mounted onto a sculptural support of intersecting planes, placing the gorillas near life size. The photographs are at once formal motion studies, self-conscious meditations on the act of display, and comments on the zoo as a constructed metaphor for primitive desire.

Amy Sampson will show two new large works. First, the large installation The Last Photo I Took of Heather is an sprawling archive of photographs of the artist’s friend and occasional muse. Produced over a period of a decade, the images mix fact with fiction, dress-up with undress, and intimacy with estrangement, narrating a tumultuous relationship in a complex, diaristic style. Second, the sculpture Total Depravity is a lifesize sculptural casting of the artist’s own naked body, covered in sushi, displayed on a glass table. Evoking the international feminist furor over nyotaimori, the Japanese practice of serving sushi off of a nude model, the sculpture calls into the question the very act of aesthetic consumption.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a makeshift photocopied lettersize publication, which does not document the work in the exhibition so much as expand upon its multiple contexts. The publication responds to the expectations surrounding a group show catalogue, but explicitly channels the production style of early 90s zines, at the pivotal moment when affordable desktop publishing was radically transforming the visual style of DIY print production. The publication will include contributions from each of the artists, along with texts from Eric Kroll and John Tottenham. Copies will be available for purchase at the gallery.


Heather Cantrell is best known for her photographic portraiture, which considers the relationships between notions of self, social status, public performance, and collective identity. She has had solo exhibitions at Kinkead Contemporary (Los Angeles), MOT International (London), Newman Popiashvilli (New York, NY), sixspace (Los Angeles) and Sandroni Rey Gallery (Los Angeles). Group shows include Wonderland Art Space (Copenhagen, Denmark), curated by Paul Pys; The Luckman Fine Arts Complex at CSULA (Los Angeles), curated by Annie Buckley; the 18th Street Art Center (Los Angeles), curated by Ciara Ennis and CCA Wattis Institute (Oakland); and the exhibition Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists, curated by Matthew Higgs. Reviews of her work have been published in Artforum, New York Times, Frieze, LA Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Cantrell received her MFA from UCLA in 2001 and her BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1995.

Dawn Kasper is well known for her performances that explore language, subjectivity, the body, and cultural norms of behavior. She has performed and exhibited at galleries and institutions including the Migros Museum Für Genenwartskunst in Zurich, LISTE Basel, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Art Basel Art Positions, Miami, LACMA, LACE, The Hammer, MOCA, Newman Popiashvili Gallery, New York, Anna Helwing Gallery, Honor Fraser Gallery, Circus Gallery, Leo Koenig Inc., Projekte, New York. Her videos have been screened at Art in General, New York; Copy Gallery, Philadelphia; and David Castillo Gallery, Miami. Kasper is one of the founding members of Human Resources.

Tricia Lawless Murray uses photography, video, and performance to document the interaction between personal fantasy and the mediated world of representation. She is represented by Jancar Gallery in Los Angeles and has exhibited her work in Germany, Iran, Poland, Spain, and Taiwan. Her work was included in The Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography, Vol. 2 published in March 2011. She also curated eros/thanatos, a project containing the photographic work of 36 artists, which was first exhibited at PØST in Los Angeles before traveling to Project Space Kreuzberg in Berlin and then back to Southern California to be shown as part of the 12 Gauge Series at the Torrance Art Museum. Born and raised along the coast in Southern California, she completed her BA in the History of Art at UC Berkeley and her MFA at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Davida Nemeroff works with the language of photographic print to explore how pictorial information is literally and metaphorically framed. She holds a BFA in Photographic Studies from Ryerson University (2004) and a MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University (2009.) Her work has been exhibited in Canada, The United States, Germany and South Korea.  She is represented by Annie Wharton Los Angeles in the U.S. and by Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects in Canada. In addition to her work as an artist, she is active as an organizer, co-directing the nocturnal platform Night Gallery in Los Angeles.

Amy Sampson has an MFA from California College of the Arts in Photography and a BFA from Sonoma State University in printmaking.  She has exhibited her photography and short films in the Moscow Biennial, the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, The Valand School of Art in Sweden, Tart Gallery in San Francisco, the DiRosa Preserve, Materials and Applications, Los Angeles, CA, and The Silver Lake Film Festival. She is also active in the collaborative EarthBound Moon, a group that produces site-specific sculptural projects internationally.

Benjamin Lord received his MFA from UCLA, and his BA from the University of Chicago. His artwork spans the techniques of photography, video, drawing, sculpture, and bookmaking. A solo exhibition of his work titled False Positives will be on view at Las Cienegas Projects in Culver City from September 10 – October 8, 2011. Much of his work takes the form of a collection or sequence of images, objects and texts. Most recently, in 2010, Humaliwo Chambers, a set of twenty five color photographs in three portfolios, was published in a large edition as the Norton Christmas Project. As a curator, last year Lord organized Three Tall Men, a group show with Erik Bluhm, Paul Gellman, and Peter Harkawik at Space 1520 in Hollywood. He is also active as a writer on art, publishing feature articles in X-TRA, Afterimage, and other publications.

Weekend also has an opening on Friday night: Sybil Wickersheimer. Or perhaps the show is a two-person exhibition, a call-and-response btwn Wickersheimer and Janne Larson. To save myself foolish mistakes, and to edify myself and you, I once again shall cut and past all the while urging you to visit the Weekend website and the show. Go.

WEEKEND is excited to present Big Haul, a site-specific “call-and-response” exhibition between Los Angeles-based artists and award-winning set designers, Sibyl Wickersheimer and Janne Larsen. The project will consist of two separate installations at WEEKEND. Larsen’s installation will be exhibited first, opening Friday, September 2nd, and running through the 11th.   Wickersheimer’s response will open on Friday, the 16th, and run through the 25th. This will be Wickersheimer and Larsen’s second exhibition of Big Haul.  

Big Haul is a collaborative dialogue between two artists whose background in theater informs their artistic practice. Each manifestation of Big Haul is informed by the previous, creating a traveling, ongoing dialogue between exhibition space, gesture, material, and form. Utilizing mass-produced materials such as tape and netting, each artist maps out and territorializes the exhibition space for themselves, responding to the space and to what the previous artist created.

Taking into account both artists’ shared backgrounds in theater, Larsen and Wickersheimer utilize these materials to intuitively explore the absence of the “stage” in these site-specific works. Without the demarcations of constructed “real” environments of sets and actors to perform their roles, Larsen and Wickersheimer are free to respond to the more nebulous and idiosyncratic “stage” of the gallery or exhibition space, creating an open-ended setting in which the viewer may travel and participate. Ultimately, the gallery visitor becomes an “actor” in the installations, thereby inverting and dissolving clear designations of audience and performer and completing the performance of the installation itself.

These ideas have become at this point tenets in the history and continued practice of installation art. In a curious way, however, Larsen and Wickersheimer’s starting point in theatre and subsequent expansion into the traditional framework of installation’s immersive environment contextualizes this notion of the theatrical and art even further, adding another layer of complexity to the experience of installation.  

Janne Larsen has designed theater, opera, dance and installations throughout Los Angeles and New York. Her work has been seen at Symphony Space, Bootleg Theater, Pomona College, Cal State L.A, Caltech, CalPoly, Los Angeles Municipal gallery, HiLite gallery, Workspace, BetaLevel, Telic Art Exchange, Outpost for Contemporary Art and The Washington Museum of Art.

Sibyl Wickersheimer is an artist, set designer, and an Assistant Professor in the USC School of Theatre. Her set designs have traveled throughout the U.S. and internationally in Hong Kong, Australia, Greece, Spain, and Mexico. Sibyl has exhibited photography and installation art in Gallery 825, Bergamont Station, Andrew Shire Gallery, and the Pacific Asia Museum among other galleries in Southern CA.

There is a party on Thursday night at Night Gallery, it’s a birthday for friend and Notes on Looking contributor Lesley Moon. Go or don’t, all depends on you. Your attendance offers the additional benefit of seeing an exhibition curated by Parker Davis.

Closing with a video CV.

Stories from my past, and from a gone era of Los Angeles – spoken while walking, thirty years later, those same streets that kept me then. Parts 2, 3, 4(a), and 4(b) are available on YouTube at geofftuck. Many are the entertaining anecdotes, yay.

Back this afternoon. Cheers!


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