All notes from Archives | Notes on Looking

Rebecca Bruno, a building a body. Bye Bye Broadway

“The next motha fucker that says some racist shit to me, I’m gonna cut his ass up and spray my pepper spray in his wounds,” she shouted. “Everyone is racist,” said the man wearing the reflective vest next to her. She looked at him dumfounded.  His face did not look up from the sidewalk, he just continued pulling cigarette butts between the curb and the street into his bin with his battered broom. “You, me, everyone,” he said softly. I remember having three to four bags in each hand, glass piercing through at various places, black plastic and black holes, holding them stiffly outward to avoid contact with the sides of my calves, a beer wine mixture dripping from the bottom corners; bulging pastry decoratoring tips, an evidential trail leading back to the guilty party. Halfway down the steps, the plastic overextended itself and the previous night’s debris cascaded forth in front of me in a wave of shattering bottles, gnarled cans, and limp wet cigarettes. For weeks I was reminded of the incident, my rubber soles kissing the sticky stairwell as I came and went, muah! The mysterious and wingless silver fish with a life span of up to 8 years outruns its predators; no problem with its slick zigzag movements. Yet, with appendages that lack radical escape ability on vertical surfaces, it’s best it stays horizontal to the floor. If you were to end its life, it disappears with little trace and without cleanup, simply blow the remaining pinch of dust and poof it’s gone! She asked me if I had the building manager’s number and if...

— a conversation between Pip Wallis and Adelle Mills, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, August 13th, 2015.

Do you think people understand what is happening? No, I don’t think people ever understand what is happening, I’m often inclined to explain, and explain in a really presumptuous way that they didn’t get it already, so that’s a problem. Do you think people understand what is happening? No, I don’t think people ever understand what is happening, I’m often inclined to explain, and explain in a really presumptuous way that they didn’t get it already, so that’s a problem. Is that because you feel it’s really important for them to understand the process of making it? Yeah I think so… but I don’t think the work is flawed because it’s not obvious, because maybe it’s open for that conversation each time, it’s ready for it. You explaining the work? Yes. Because within the work there’s so much about this role of interpretation, not misinterpretation but differently perceiving; it occurs in the work, in the actors that are performing the work, but then also in the audience’s understanding of the work. So maybe it’s appropriate that there’s also… These gaps? Most definitely, I mean perhaps I wouldn’t be making work about interpretation and cognition if there weren’t those questions already. So the ambiguity is really important? Yes, it is subject matter that is already everywhere so… is this recording? Yeah. Yep. [LAUGHTER] When we spoke last time you mentioned Simone Forti, and it reminded me about the last time I was here in Los Angeles; I did a writing exercise with Simone where we went to the zoo and she asked us to observe the movement of the animals...

When we were young

When we were young is a group exhibition of early work by five mid-to-late career artists at Gallery Luisotti. There’s John Divola’s UCLA MFA application from 1970-71, when he was still an undergraduate at CSUN; spoiler alert—he was accepted to UCLA and has taught at UCR since the late-1980s. And images Christina Fernandez hasn’t shown since a fiery (read: traumatic-sounding) critique at CalArts in 1994. And photographs from the 1980s that Ron Jude forgot about for a few decades and then printed in 2010 as an appropriation of his younger-self. And, finally, Mark Ruwedel’s Evans Street Portfolio (1983) and Catherine Wagner’s California Landscapes (1972-79), a glimpse at two budding artists already in tune with themes they’ll pursue for years to come. It’s sweet without becoming saccharine, like suddenly happening upon charming pictures of a lover’s awkward adolescence and delighting in all the newfound difference and recognizable similarities between their past and present. Pencil marks ghost the matting of Divola’s MFA application—little indexes of a young artist measuring out his own framing. The images themselves are tightly cropped, flat and formal pictures of what looks like manicured gardens against the backdrop of suburban homes in the San Fernando Valley—so unlike the playful wildness of Zuma (1977), only six years ahead in some imagined linearity of John Divola’s career. When I’m in a deliberate environment with clean white walls and perfect lighting for a collector’s eye, it can be hard to remember just how messy making can be, but When we were young focuses on this messiness as a presentation of an oftentimes meandering road toward mastery—more about sustained commitment to...

Adorable Dudamel, Fuck Your Encore, Love Alice

Her long, skin tone gown stays pressed to her body down to the tops of her knees; as she walks, the fabric and gemstones below the patella flail with the angular momentum and sweeping back and forth motion of a gondola ride at a carnival. She sits down at the piano, waits for silence, and begins to knead the keys as the rest of the orchestra softly strokes away at strings of various lengths, wound tightly, to masses of desperate proportions. Dudamel faces the orchestra and waves his hands faithfully, though his motions seem abbreviated from his signature moves, frozen in their triumphant candor and suspended from light poles throughout the city. The musicians’ eyes burn through their sheet music anyway; they have been fixated on her ever since the moment she appeared before them. Her sounds begin to escalate over the rest of the instruments, turning the entire symphony into background noise. She accelerates her motions even further. They pause and watch stoically; she keeps playing, faster and faster. His back remains turned to her; she sits in front of him, in front of all of us.  In between everyone, she is the center of the earth. The one who cannot face her is the one thought to be in charge. She talks through him, and demands, through accentuated notes, when the rest of the orchestra can play and, with the same sweeping inflection, when they should stop. Her hair is trimmed just above her closed eyes, sharply cut to their outer edges; sleek blackness jetting down extending out forward beyond her face, impenetrable blinkers, internalizing her visual...

I’m Gonna Be (500 Grand)

Most people in Los Angeles hate traffic. I don’t. I’m an outside sales consultant. I spend about forty percent of my waking hours on the road. Within the organization where I work, they call people who do what I do “Road Warriors.” It’s a laughable term and quite the aggrandizement. The reality of being on the road in LA traffic is far less glamorous, but I don’t mind it. It’s where I feel at home. “Outside” sales, as opposed to “inside” sales, means literally that my business negotiations take place outside of my office. Rather than making and closing deals “inside,” or on the phone, I am consistently driving to and from meetings at various organizations throughout my territory of East LA. In my role, there are few better feelings than exiting a parking lot with a stack of signed agreements indicating that I’ve achieved the end goal, and I’m now one step closer to reaching my target number for the year, which I’ve skeptically scribbled in lipstick on my bathroom mirror because I’ve been challenged by a co-worker to try it and see if his belief in the law of attraction will work for me too. But deep down I know I’ve never been motivated by any sort of quota. What motivates me is that moment of getting the “Yes.” Of having earned someone’s trust and desire to form a partnership. I’ve gotten to know myself quite well in my time spent alone in my car. It is where I experience many of my most private moments. In driving, we often forget about the collective experience, each floating around in our own private universe of...