Joint Dialogue Book Launch

Looking back, I think of Joint Dialogue as a sexy mystery story: Lee Lozano was frank and powerful – like Ross Macdonald’s sexually astute anti-heroines – and seeringly honest in her revelations. She set up simple experiments in social interaction and then, in a diaristic fashion, documented her observations, alternately calling out and supporting her friends, her culture and herself.

The mystery for me was psychological: reading these histories in their present tense and for the first time – even as I was excited by the ideas and charmed by the personalities – I was afraid. Lozano’s abilities were acute and stringent, she would delve deeply into her own mind and set challenges for herself – such as ‘don’t talk to any women,’ ‘retreat from the art world,’ ‘don’t sell to collectors,’ and in Joint Dialogue I remember something about smoking weed – all of which makes fascinating art but guarantees a super precarious existence, something like doing intense psychotherapy twenty-four hours a day. One either becomes a clear Zen master or, like Lozano, retreats to Texas and stops interacting with the world. (Same thing?) Seemingly capricious decisions by others are mysterious because most of us work hard to make sense. Lee Lozano worked hard to make something else.

The structure that Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer gave this exhibition also felt like literature. All three characters existed together in the past and two remain alive, one offered commentary that was new and so changed the history, or enriched it. In the first room, the documentary work of Graham and Lozano included conversations between the two, as well as individual works relating to their social scene. This set the stage, this gave me the impression of a group of fiercely intelligent and competitive young artists pursuing their own practices even as they shared projects.

In the second room, Kaltenbach’s voice took over, presenting his own work from the time, including two time capsules related to Lozano that had previously not been shown, and also presenting work that Lozano made at the time in his studio. For me it was like Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, with three characters (Dan Graham, Stephen Kaltenbach and Lee Lozano) each telling one version of a shared past, followed by Kaltenbach offering new insights to that past. 

Oh my friends, it was a very romantic day I spent in that gallery two years ago. In the first room I walked from document to document, reading the stories of what began to feel like friends. I did what I always do when I read – I returned to previous “pages” to relocate myself in the story, or to find mention of characters that I had missed, I skipped ahead to find the end of one trail and then doubled back again simply for the pleasure of reading. 

The second room of the gallery that day was also charmed and had magic. Because of the dominance of words in the previous space and their suggestive power over my senses, the second room – which held objects as well as texts – felt exotic. Two rusted iron boxes glowed hazy orange, a fabric drape on one wall suggested a doorway or window and the bones of a skeleton placed beneath high windows glowed in the pure daylight. Eek. Wow.

I heard Philip Glass talk at LACMA last year and he told the story of searching through the Cairo Museum to find a rumored statue of Akhnaten. He looked in room after vast, dark room, and finally – almost giving up – he turned a corner into another chamber of antiquities and found at the back Akhnaten’s forgotten statue, with one of the few windows in the museum casting clear daylight upon it in a room dim with history. That was my experience at Overduin and Kite that afternoon in March two years ago.

Joint Dialogue is a book worth waiting for. Make that HAS been a book worth waiting for. Come ot Oooga Booga on Thursday and pick up your copy.

Congratulations and thanks to Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and the good people at Overduin and Kite.

Please join Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Overduin & Kite, and Ooga Booga
for a book launch this Thursday February 23rd 5-7pm:
exhibition catalogue
curated by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer
published by Overduin & Kite
This Thursday 5-7pm at Ooga Booga
Refreshments will be served.
*films by Hollis Frampton & Dan Graham will be screened in the courtyard.

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Los Angeles, CA 90012
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