All notes with the topic Contributers | Notes on Looking

An interview with Asher Hartman in the afterglow of The Silver, the Black, the Wicked Dance performed in the Bing Theater at LACMA on Friday May 13th and Saturday May 14th, 2016.

Asher: Do you want me to get a little table for you? laub: Sure. Ok, good. This formalizes it a little… Let’s see.  I got to see The Silver, the Black, the Wicked Dance twice, which was really fun. Why did you choose that space? Asher: We were looking for different spaces in the museum. When I went into the Bing Theater, it had a particular sensation in it that was attractive to me. It has a kind of energy from all the old performances over the years and film series ongoing at LACMA in the Bing Theatre.  It’s full, that particular space- with a lot of energy and history. laub: What kind of history? Asher: It has a history of great musical and film performances and if you look at the architecture, it’s this beautiful 60’s architecture reminiscent of 1970s film and theatre, which, to my recollection, having been very young at the time, is very psychological, very intense, very character driven, very emotionally driven, and has a somewhat experimental sensibility, and so, immediately you walk into that theatre and you feel it.  People talk about that theatre as being haunted by the feeling of John Cassavetes. I understand that, there’s intensity about the space that I felt really akin too. laub: How important is it that people know about theater to view your work? Asher: I don’t think it’s important at all. Artists don’t seem to have a connection to theater, which I completely understand, because theater- American conservative contemporary theater- is not very interesting to me either. I think the more you know about it, the...

Phoenix Rising, Part 3: laub, me, and The Revolution (The Theory of Everything) A conversation with Emi Kuriyama, Jennifer Moon and laub

  11/22/2015 3:22PM in Culver City Emi Kuriyama: We can talk about whatever, but . . . hmm . . . how did you two meet? I heard you met at laub’s opening (click here). Who made the first move? laub: I did! Jennifer Moon: You did?! l: because I was like, “I’m in The Revolution (click here)” JM: Oh, yeah yeah, but you didn’t ask Young [Chung] to introduce us. l: No no, what happened is the night before when I was installing, Young had this sit down with me and said, “You know, you’re part of the family now and that means you have to know the other artists that are here,” so that night I looked up everybody on the list of Commonwealth and Jennifer was the one I remembered. Jennifer. The Revolution. I had that in my head. JM: The water thing. l: Yeah. Jennifer was bartending and I went to get water, but then— JM: We both reached for the glass at the same time. l: Yeah yeah yeah. EK: Wait, for real? JM: Yeah yeah yeah. [LAUGHTER] JM: So that was funny, and I poured some water and smiled and— l: And then I came back and we had that conversation. JM: And Young was like, “Oh, you haven’t met yet. laub, Jennifer. Jennifer, laub,” and he ran away, and laub said he was into The Revolution. EK: That’s a really good pick up line. JM: Yeah yeah. I know, right! And then he messaged me the next day saying something short like, “Your life force and energy has impacted me. Would like more.” And...

Anisotropic: If The Nuance Looks Moot Its Effects Are Radical, Or: The Sequoia National Forest Is Mind-Blowingly Big and Old and It’s For You To Look At: Chris Adler Interviews Brody Albert

B: There are basically three works that I’m thinking of doing – some happening inside the space and some actually happening outside the space. The first is actually based on this tunnel, which is this tunnel that leads off of the 105 to LAX. Everyone who lives in LA has been through this 100 times. The tunnel has this fascinating thing to me where the sidewalk is really, really skinny, so it forces people, when they’re walking, because of the ongoing traffic, to rub their shoulders and their hips against the wall. C: And those are the drag marks? B: And those are the drag marks. It’s kind of beautiful, so there are these drag marks that go throughout the entire thing. C: Wow, and then- are there marks from vehicles as well, from bang-ups? B: I don’t think so, I think that would do something else entirely. Because that’s soot, right? So it’s just soot getting lightly removed. So that’s it, but there are moments – the internet’s being slow – where people are tagging and writing their names, but for the most part it’s shoulder and hips. And I’ve been going there and pulling over and trying to photograph it, just trying to figure out what’s going on, and I’m super, super fascinated by that. That there’s this drawing, this kind of mural that’s being made by people passing through this area, that’s just forced to happen because of the specifics of the architecture. It’s kind of this strange thing to me, you actually can’t walk this. There’s no sidewalk leading to there. I don’t quite understand...

“But all I can see is Red, red, red, red, red now What am I gonna do” : William Kaminski’s Haunted Heck

What is sleep you ask, what is dream I ask, what is real you reply. Being scared makes you freeze, makes your body shut, having fear means there’s an action to be taken, fear is a bravery you need to work through. I was reminded that there is also terror, terror makes fear breakable, terror shakes you to the core of your being and never leaves you be. We were the first in line for the second night of LIVE THRU THIS KURT COBAIN HAUNTED HECK. We decided to enter sober. Standing in front of the red corridor, you asked me to hold your hand. I said I would never let go. I reassured myself. It would be too obvious for a ghost to enter a haunted house; they have more fun inside our beds. I was wrong. We smiled at the tiara-wearing girl (Hole – Live Through This) in the entrance and walked in. I asked you if you want to be in front of me or behind me; you moved to my front, taking my arms above your shoulders and crossing them over your heart. Your upper back was on my chest, my chin was above your head; walking with spread legs, I realized I couldn’t protect you even if I wanted to. Passing through the first room where Kurt was sitting on a toilet making sick noises, we had to almost touch him in order to maneuver our now-one-body through the room, startled by our reflection in the bathroom mirror. We entered into Courtney’s closet – she came out of the rack and started shouting, you...

— 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...

Spectrum for an Untouchable: Meital Yaniv

I’m pretty sure he was trying to beat the red light. I’m pretty sure she thought he was going to stop. He didn’t stop, and neither did she. He struck the front of her truck; his motorcycle went way beyond where he went, but he went far too. He landed close to my door, to my left. My friend asked if I had seen what had just happened. I looked at the man. I asked my friend what he meant. He said that truck just hit that guy on the motorcycle and his bike is way over there and he is right there lying on the ground. I looked at the man: black pants, black shirt and black helmet. I asked my friend if it was real. He started to breath heavy. I didn’t know if I should get out of the car. People started to gather, it felt like there was nothing I could do. I looked down at the man wondering if he was real, wondering if he was alive. Through my window, I heard the man ask another man if his arm was missing, the stranger responded, no it’s just broken. The blood slithered out from under his helmet onto the sidewalk. I didn’t hear any other words, and I didn’t see any more movement; but he still had his arm. My friend was freaking out. At that point, I was trying to be okay. When I had asked Meital Yaniv a little over a week ago what her writing was about, she said it was about Israel. When I told her I felt like I...

Jenny Yurshansky | Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory

Through the tall slender stalks of deer grass, and clumping masses of wild rye, she treads gently. Shadows still laying horizontally she takes shade under a California Bay inhaling the sweet smell of lavender and sage carried in from the quiet breeze. She removes her gloves revealing the dirt embedded deep in her nails, bends down takes off her shoes and begins to extract the foxtails that have woven themselves masterfully into her socks. Holding the removed seedpods in the palm of her hand while using her thumb and index to excavate the others; she draws out strings of cotton with each failed attempt. The act seems violent. She sits in the shade, feet out in the sun. Without identification, who are you? How old are you? Where are you from? Can you prove it? If you are pulled over by the police, you must present them with a card. This card states that you belong; you are identifiable. You may nervously smile, trying to simulate your photographic self, explain your situation; where you are coming from, where you are going. Has your name changed? Is this your current address? Are you wearing the glasses in which your card states you should be, are you legally blind?  Mediterranean mustard is an erect, canescent, biennial or perennial growing to some 3′ tall.   With the delicate eye of a botanist and the unique ecological perspective of California’s Invasive Plant population, Jenny Yurshansky’s solo show at Pitzer College addresses issues of permanence and belongingness, combined with sociopolitical awareness and hidden agendas.  The stems are branched both from the base and above, and...

Andrew Choate on Green Umbrella

The Sō percussion ensemble originally commissioned David Lang’s “the so-called laws of nature” in 2002, and their physical familiarity with this elaborate composition made watching their performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall intensely visually captivating. The piece is divided into three sections, and the four performers gradually moved further and further away from the audience to access their respective percussion stations. The first section focussed on the sound of mallets on a thin wood plank, and each performer looked like they were playing ping pong with themselves, bouncing sounds back and forth on the plank. A syncing and de-syncing of rotating patterns gave me the impression of the sound of corrugation, or a jug full of water gurgling over. I found the actual tone of the mallet on the wood to be a semi-shrill clatter, like when you drop a long piece of wood, or a couple of 2x4s stacked poorly fall on their side. But that harshness dissipated almost instantly, lasting only for the duration of the split second of the strike. Because this music depends on the patterns and speed of the music, and less on variety of tone, hearing wood over and over again felt like listening to a kind of sawing, like something might break in half before it was over. Not knowing what was to come, I started imagining these patterns on different materials like rubber, cloth, metal, fur, bullets, bushes, ozone. And then the first part was over, and the musicians took a couple steps back, turned their bodies 90°, and started playing similar patterns on some sort of metallic tubes. I...

Carmen Argote: watermelons, no catchies or bouncies at Commonwealth & Council

The blacktop of the playground ignites a very specific memory to my individual history. I grew up mostly in a small solar powered house with a well that supplied my family’s water. Washing clothing was an issue for two reasons: one, because the machine sucked all the power from the rest of the house, often forcing us to start a noisy generator in order to finish a load of clothes; and two, the water that came from the well was straight from the earth, anything white would eventually become slightly off-white, then eventually beige and sooner or later would have to be discarded. This inevitably led me to wear mostly dark colors, or black; nothing that allowed for visible stains. Unfortunately, my school provided a uniform for Physical Education, white shirt and grey shorts, as an attempt to make us all look “the same”. Most kids enjoyed getting dirty during recess; I became an expert at participation without overexertion. Anything involving a ball and the blacktop meant dirty hands, so as I watched other kids casually (or aggressively) wipe the soot on and into their clothing knowing they could take them home to their parent’s magical machines and return the next day looking fresh and clean; I caught the ball at a distance, kept my hands slightly off to the sides of the material that threatened to expose my home life. A day when I didn’t have to take my uniform home to the washer was a successful day at recess. Carmen Argote’s Painting for an Exterior Wall presents the viewer with a simple Mondrianesque arrangement caked with a...

Rafa Esparza / Elizabeth Sonenberg Interview

(Note this interview was intended for publication on August 19th but was delayed due to unforeseen technical difficulties on Notes’ end. Nevertheless, we liked what was happening here and wanted to see it through.) Artist and curator Elizabeth Sonenberg talks with Rafa Esparza in the weeks leading up to his new work with Elysian Valley based Clockshop entitled building: a simulacrum of power on the site of Michael Parker’s The Unfinished. For nearly a month Esparza has been holding a collaborative, labor intensive residency with his parents and 5 siblings making hundreds of handmade adobe bricks on site, at the post-industrial Bowtie Project, just feet from the LA River. Once completed the bricks will be laid atop The Unfinished, where Esparza and artist Rebeca Hernandez will stage movement-based performances engaging the bricked surface, the LA River and the sun. This conversation has been held throughout the last few weeks over site visits, bike rides and email.   Elizabeth Sonenberg: I’ve been thinking about what form writing about your work should take and I thought it would be nice to have an ongoing back and forth. Here are some questions and digging followed by more questions and more digging. dirt dirt dirt GOLD is dirt. Rafa Esparza: Haha, yes. Gold is shiny dirt. ES: We’ve spoken about ritual and approaching objects with intentionality. In your work, you are in dialogue with certain rituals, and also produce your own. What sanctifies an object for you? What is this idea of the sacred for you, and what type of attention or focus does it require? I’ve talked to you about alchemical shifts...

Coyotes on the Golf Course – Photos and text by Janne Larsen

I had what seems to me the quintessential Los Angeles moment one morning at Griffith Park. On an early morning hike, I witnessed a pack of coyotes inhabiting a luscious green with a pack of plaid garbed golfers.  The golfers paid no heed or were perhaps unaware of these skulking animals weaving through the trees around them. They proceeded to golf while the coyotes continued to follow them, seemingly at ease with one another.  This idea of the wild west constantly lurking in the shadows amidst this urban metropolis is the essence of Los Angeles to me. The inherent wildness slowly reveals itself as you plunge deeper into the layers of the city. Los Angeles is an apocalyptic city precisely because of it’s relationship to nature – floods, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and drought not to mention the man-made conflicts within its tumultuous history. Ultimately, the people who casually pass through never get this about our urban sprawl: the wild lurking behind the façade. This led me to start noticing when the natural elements and the man-made coexist in ways which hint at a grander battle. This is most apparent in the cracked sidewalks or abandoned buildings with the natural overgrowth that smothers, and covers and pulls down walls over time.  On a more subtle note, I began noting street signs around the city that have plants growing through their structure. These signs are human attempts to communicate a law or courtesy.  The plants use these signs as trestles and are indicative of the wildness, the un-tameable. When I notice these small treasures, they give me a punk rock feeling...