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The Skinny On The 2014 Made In L.A.

Made In L.A. Hammer 2014 1

A few weeks ago, we studied the Made In L.A. announcement to get an idea of what to expect. We tossed out some theories and tried to figure out exactly what will come from Los Angeles’ next biennial. Well, here is some news: yesterday the museum hosted a small press gathering where they addressed and explained news surrounding upcoming shows and events, specifically with an eye on Made In L.A.. Some surprises were revealed, lots of things were confirmed, and there’s an overall feeling that this incarnation of the show is a lot more polished.

Made In L.A. Hammer 2014 2

The following news came from Museum Director Anne Philbin and MIL.A. curators Connie Butler and Michael Ned Holte. They took turns sharing news and explaining what exactly this show will be and how it is different. There is a lot going on—and it certainly doesn’t feel like the same show at all.

• Everything will take place at the Hammer. No surprise here: there will just be one location for the show this year. The one surprising thing: the entire museum is being taken over, which has never been done. Every single gallery—even the Armand Hammer Collection. As Philbin said, “it will be everywhere in the museum, which is a first.”
• A focus on artists and artist groups. No surprise here but there are more than 35 artists participating as many—Los Angeles Museum Of Art, Public Fiction, KCHUNG, James Kidd, etc.—consist of many, many artists. This means…
• Shows within shows. Since many of the artistic practices included are less straightforward “art makers,” many of the groups and collectives will be presenting works from other artists, doing what they do in their own gallery spaces but within the Hammer. This is an interesting and undoubtedly surprising move as this means there will be many “shows within the show.” That is a large theme of this exhibition.
• The awards have been fixed. After speaking with the artists and the Hammer’s artist council and Jarl Mohn, the new awarding structure was made to give the Mohn Award (like last time), the Career Achievement Award, and the Public Recognition Award.
• …but only one is voted on by the public. Both the Mohn and the Career Achievement is voted on by a jury, which makes sense but also is a bit wah waaaah. Not that big of a deal though! The Public Recognition Award obviously will be voted on by the public.
• …but the public voting won’t be pre-selected. Unlike last time, the public vote won’t be on a selection of the artists: the public will be able to vote on any of the artists in the show. This could be tricky as it could be a popularity contest but this is the “fair” way of doing it: you truly can vote on which art moved you most or that you enjoyed most. As we know from last time, you were only allowed to vote on a pre-selected group (which was awkward).
• The video/trailer for the show looks good. We got a preview of it and it is nice.
• It also features Lucky Dragons. Because Sarah Rara is in the show. No surprise there! They’ll also be doing a concert at some point.
• “It’s not a thematically organized exhibition but rather thirty five very different practices (but there are some underlying themes).” From curator Connie Butler.
• A lot of the groups and “small institutions” participating are microcosms for Los Angeles. As curator Michael Ned Holte explained—Which we can both concur and call bullshit on.—is that these groups like Los Angeles Museum Of Art and Public Fiction are trying to bring Los Angeles together in their own way, curating their own version of Los Angeles art now. Ned Holte explained: “One of the things we were interested in in our research is how artists are seeing Los Angeles and thinking about Los Angeles and the kind of programming and exhibition strategies that artists are devising outside the context of commercial galleries and larger institutions and inviting them to come into an institution like The Hammer and organizing projects within the context of this museum and Made In L.A..”
• There’s a lot of “recently moved to Los Angeles.” More than we liked to hear, participating artists were described as such. Is that truly what it means to make in L.A.? To just have moved here or moved back here? That’s a bit tricky.
• There will be a lot more performances. Because there are so many collectives and interdisciplinary artists, there will be more performances. No surprise here.
• More videos, too. Again: no surprise.
• There will be less recent graduates. But still quite a bit.
• More KCRW concerts. They’ll be themed around specific “made in L.A.” concepts but in musical trends.

Made In L.A. Hammer 2014 3

So…some thoughts! Decompressing those announcements a bit and offering up some questions.

You’ll have to keep coming back to the show. Even more than the previous show, this Made In L.A. is going to require more investment from the audience. From what we heard, James Kidd Studio is having a practice space in the courtyard open for the entire show, KCHUNG will likely be broadcasting throughout the duration, Gerard & Kelly will be performing (and activating their installation), there will be Danielle Dean, Harry Dodge, Wu Tsang, and more video nights, and lots more. In order to “get” a sense of all the artists, you’ll have to keep coming back.
• …but the show’s accessibility will be nice. One location and free? That’s great.
• Context, context, context. A big issue with the last show that will have to be addressed here is explaining who this artist or group is and why they are in the show. Having shows within a show and collectives is great but this is going to make it particularly tricky for audiences to engage with and understand. There will have to be a lot of contextualizing otherwise it’s going to be too dense and too scattered to understand.
• Don’t get too caught up in yourself. Hearing about the artists and their prospective projects was great but one concern became clear: like all art, the works may get too caught up in the mind and one’s own practice that the resulting piece may not entirely translate. Some of the pieces Butler and Ned Holte described we wanted to groan at as the concepts being shared clearly will not be what most audiences will get from it. Again: context. Also! Self-awareness. Hold those two close, folks.
• It will obviously be more succinct. Having less artists and one location is good—but part of us wishes the large scale, grandiose ambitions of the first show still existed. Hopefully this incarnation isn’t too quaint?

Well, that’s it folks: all the cards have been put on the table for the show and we’ll be waiting until June 15 to see for ourselves (and May 11 for the start of the #MadeInLA countdown).

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