Notes on looking isn't dead

Notes on Looking is a creative writing platform for the Los Angeles art community.

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Most recent notes on looking…

The Sexual Bronze Show

Ordering dinner was the worst idea; we should have just had a quick drink. We met for one reason, and it’s definitely not going to happen here. We both finger our foods, swirling the ingredients into each other on our plates, leaving us with two comminlged pools of indistinguishable goo; somehow it’s reassuring—it’s the only sign that we are on the same page. Bettina Hubby’s exhibition, The Sexual Bronze Show, at Klowden Mann left me feeling like I was on the wrong side of a joke. It can be quite upsetting to be the only one in the room that doesn’t understand what is going on; it was fitting then, that I was the only one in the room. We live with immediate remedies for ignorance; who hasn’t Google searched a term moments after pretending to understand what someone is talking about? With so much information at our fingertips, rote learning nowadays seems less relevant. Many people have replaced flirting with liking and swiping, and have created online personas for themselves that match their offline personalities as much as a lemon matches a clothespin. Do you know Daniela? Yeah, I follow her on Instagram. That’s not what I asked. Matthew Barney brought last year to a close with his bro’d out extruded bronzes forged as underwater cum shots. Bettina Hubby begins this year with life-like, wickedly twisted, diminutive bronze pairings that sit atop thirteen svelte pedestals. Each pillar stands as a separate little island, holding aloft two seemingly disparate objects, a ravioli and a gourd, or a yellow dishwashing glove and a roll of sausages. They coyly sit with... read more

in unison taisha paggett with WXPT: The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People

And for the first time in a long time, I’m back in my body. I’m standing at the edge of a room. My feet together, half on cold grey flooring, half supported by brown fuzzy carpet. I let the weight of my body fall into my heels as I breathe low into my belly. I look down. I look up. I look at the eyes of the bodies in the circle. I know this space. Not as intimately as the WXPT company members, but as someone who was invited to share in an experience. I’m guided by the voice of taisha paggett and in response my body changes energy. There’s an impulse, a motivation, and I’m left experiencing an awareness I haven’t felt in a long time. This project, company, and school, in its exploration of personal and collective identity and politics, is a continual discovery of aliveness. Last month I had the pleasure of attending performances, classes, and rehearsals with taisha paggett and WXPT’s School for the Movement of the Technicolor People. In collaboration with Ashley Hunt and Kim Zumpfe, LACE was completely transformed into a dance school and rehearsal space. During a conversation hosted by at land’s edge, paggett discusses an interest in “opening things up” as she explains the different installation choices in the space. Hearing this, my mind journeys to the scene of paggett attempting to bust through a wall with her hands during the opening performance of the school. paggett’s intention seems clear and direct. The body breaking through walls. “Through” suggests a movement of the body from one place to another without interruption.... read more

Sweet 16

Nothing changes in the New Year; or, at least, nothing goes away and disappears on its own. It’s that time again. Make resolutions. Launch efforts to “better” our lives and fix the failures of the previous year as we enter the new one. Stop drinking. Stop smoking. Stop for the entire year or six months or just the singular month of January. Well, it’s been a hell of a week. It’s been raining, maybe a few days off will do the trick, bottoms up! Find fulfillment in new ways—a job change, a healthier diet, a revamped sex life, a vow of celibacy; or hope nothing changes (gun advocates) and look to the year ahead as a chance to find solid ground, settle down as they say, read a little more and hope this isn’t the year when an earthquake wipes out half the population of Brooklyn, I mean Downtown Los Angeles, I mean DTLA. It’s the New Year and galleries already have their schedule of exhibitions set; go online and see who is going to be showing when and where. Set your entire calendar for art outings in 2016. This isn’t to say there won’t be any surprises. There’ll be many: new galleries, pop-up shows, impromptu performances, an abundance of writing (I hope). Spaces will close. Some will expand. Certain artists will show the same old thing. So-and-so will pick up a paint brush again, Did you hear that she is working in clay now? She should have stuck to doing those portraits! Oh, the gossip is to die for. There will be shows where the work doesn’t live... read more


  ¶   there is always an invisible force even when alone – together even when alone – alone there is always an invisible force conducts our every impulse i think of you ceaselessly ceaselessly you are large and vast as the ocean itself by itself shapeless without a creature inside, not a single cell, one molar tooth of matter other than water hydrogen – oxygen – hydrogen atoms a t o m s a t m o s a t  m o s   ¶1   and this, multiple lacerations, this stings like a mutherfucking skate, the kind that cuts across the ocean bottom like butter before it’s dipped in a secret batter and fried golden delicious to a crisp, served with apple compote at my favorite star restaurant — classy, keepin’ it world class, this skate a substitute for the real thing, the sting out of my price range. but it’s easy to be a cry baby over it, get it, tiny dings incur tiny debt (too small for the naked lens to kaptcha), it was only the cat’s miaow, if only i’d gone to the bank, was my only security the shore line or was it consolation, your voice only carries across the crowd when the dunes, as soon as day break, begin as the next cycle of elections begin cuts back to corral the fallen wishy washy morale, sooty tree, company, decree what greed? — i’ve none. i blink and you do not believe, deep (breathe, hon) diving in the sea bell bottoms, slight aberration, bronzen kiss the brazen sun: it is an equation and... read more

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... read more

Richard Hawkins, It’s gonna be… Oh, clay?

Examination of Test # RH0815 As I entered I found her in the supine position. Upon first inspection it appeared her hands were tucked underneath her lower back, yet it was soon evident her upper limbs had been completely removed. Her skin was dark, thick and rugged with a charcoal green complexion. Her expression was placid, peering off as if fixated on a non-existent point in the room. Her hair was styled in three dramatic classic barrel curls, two stretched out from the sides and one glorious cresting wave on top of her head. Orange hair also extended from below her blue breasts. A phallic-like organ protruded from her abdomen and rested between her buttocks, which were inverted to her front. A peculiar powder grey skull with cavernous eyes was attached to the bottom of her tibias. She was a truly fascinating specimen of Dr. Hawkins. It is said that the French poet Isidore Isou, after observing the post electroshock drawings of Artaud, would follow Dr. Ferdière into the night begging him to perform the controversial, and arguably debilitating, treatment on him. Dr. Ferdière, also a poet and friend to many surrealists, aimed to “remove the various delusions and physical tics” Artaud suffered from; he believed that the late playwrights’ habits of crafting magic spells, creating astrology charts, and drawing unsettling images were symptoms of mental illness. Today, many professionals would say that Artaud suffered from schizophrenia, and that Ferdière, suffered from jealousy. Richard Hawkins’ exhibition “New Work,” at Richard Telles Fine Art and Jenny’s, excavates the post electroshock drawings of Antonin Artaud, and continues the surrealist longing for the complex incongruity... read more

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... read more

Jiwoon Yoon: Your Country Thanks You

Hello welcome to Michael’s, it’s about a thirty-minute wait. This was certainly the first time I had ever been put on a waitlist while trying to enter an artists’ open studio, but it was also the first time I had been to Columbia University. I made my way haltingly between the rambunctious crowds in Prentis Hall and the barrage of excited introductions from my friend Iris Hu, in search of a drink. This is Ki __. I’m sorry what was your name? Oh, I want to show you my friend’s work. What was the last persons’ name? Who? Where are we? Prentis. No­, what floor? This is Ca ___n. Are you Peter’s friend? No. Has it been thirty minutes yet? It felt like I had been smelling the food cooking throughout the building for almost an hour hanging like a fog among these strangers by the time I was seated at Jiwoon Yoon’s pop up restaurant; I breathed out my exhaustion. I looked at the people already poised with their food in front of them. Two college students, replicating any typical restaurant outing experience on a Sunday night chatted incoherently. Behind them loomed tall chrome shelving units decorated with perfectly erect towers of spam, pineapple, corn beef hash, and salsa all lit with low grey light, creating a subtly scientific, yet posh, atmosphere. A long oversized black and white sash, reminiscent of those worn at a Miss America pageant, lay spread out across the table and onto the floor, it read, “YOUR COUNTRY THANKS YOU.” A woman in black gracefully stepped onto the stage that was built in-between the... read more

Mystic Pizza

What does it mean when an artist duo breaks up? Does it make a difference if the partnership was also romantic? What happens to the resulting output? Can the players be substituted? Are the works a result of the action, the history of two bodies, two minds, or two hearts? Marina and Ulay have everyone atwitter again with their pending lawsuit. The now collapsed collaborative has been carved into the canon thanks to a practice where they pushed the other beyond acceptable thresholds. Their time together climaxed with an epic final performance on the greatest wall, face to face with their absolute limit, each other. We all recognize that there is no such thing as a clean break when passions are involved. What leaves uglier scars than the psychic tears in one’s artistic identity after it’s wrenched from being bound up with another’s? Rebuilding takes a whole new set of tools; slapping a prosthesis over the phantom limb of your missing familiar. You have to find another language for concocting your spells, a completely different set of ingredients. How do you fill the void left by the other’s absence? Is that even possible? There are many ways to cram a vacuum, almost all have to do with basic instincts, basic drives. For David Bell and Ashley Jean Harris, the pair behind the pop-up cooking project Fat Jasmine the hole to plug was the stomach, the drive was hunger. The filler for their performative material was pizza and it was through this medium that they worked their creative voodoo. This dish it turns out, is more divisive than its usual... read more