Pedro Reyes | Notes on Looking

From LA to Seoul: Félix González-Torres retrospective, Interactive art at MOLAA and Kumho, Artspectrum at Leeum, Do Ho Suh, Gala Porras-Kim

This past month I’ve been roaming around Asia, not only eating amazing food but also checking out the local art scenes in each place.  My first stop was Seoul in South Korea.  Notes on Looking contributor Andy St. Louis, who lives there, nicely organized a detailed itinerary of important and interesting art spots in this lively city.  Luckily NOL readers will soon be able to read Andy’s coverage of the upcoming 9th Gwangju Biennale. As I walked around Seoul’s many museums and galleries, I couldn’t help but make connections with LA’s art scene, more specifically LA’s Latin art scene.  First of all, the big show going on this summer until Sept 28 is Cuban-born Félix González-Torres, his first retrospective in Asia.  We know his work well in the U.S. as he died quite young in NYC in 1996, due to AIDS. Surprisingly, I first came across his work in a Seoul  subway station, a billboard of an unmade, unoccupied bed with two pillows.  Immediately I felt the sense of loss and longing that González-Torres often portrays in his work.  But I also noticed the two pillows together and touching; a feeling of love and connection is equally created.  As I traveled around the city, I began to spot the same billboard, six in total. This retrospective on view at Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art in central Seoul also has work on view at its sister museum Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, such as two round wall clocks Untitled (Perfect Lovers), which plays with the notions of love, partnership and duality (The clocks are set at the same time but...

Narcos, Feral scapes and Art on the Radio: Edgardo Aragón; “West is More”; Xavier Cázares Cortéz; Radio Break: Pedro Reyes, Brandon LaBelle, & Arnoldo Vargas

Many Mexican artists are tackling the theme of drug trafficking in their work, often by portraying the violence and aggression in ways that are sensational and direct.  One artist who is attempting work in the complete opposite way is Edgardo Aragón, whose first solo-exhibition in the US is on view at Cal State LA’s Luckman Gallery, in collaboration with LAXART. Aragón, who is from Oaxaca, Mexico, takes on the subject of narco-trafficking in a way that is subtle and simple.  The solitary landscapes, which reoccur in his vidoes, indirectly portray the cruelty of these impoverished narco-agricultural regions. The exhibition consists of a video-trilogy.  In Efectos de Familia, several screens show kids, or chiquinarcos (children recruited by the cartel) in what seem like theatrical staged maquettes.  The kids are playfully imitating what the narco does to his victims.  In one video, a little boy stands in the middle of a desolate, dusty landscape.  A truck goes around him in a circle creating a huge dirt cloud, which is meant to suffocate;  this act reveals an actual form of torture.  In a second video, two young boys imitate a violent encounter between two enemies; one boy opens the truck door and pretends to shoot a gun, the other boy pretends to get shot over and over.  There is no blood, no bullets just two kids mimicking a common spectacle.  In another video a boy’s feet are buried in the sand.  He stands in the middle of a deserted, dirt road.  A truck’s lights blind as it then races toward him, in what looks like a game of chicken.  The truck violently...