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Made In L.A. 2014: Our Top Five Picks–Post-Show

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A big question on all art people in Los Angeles (and beyond): who will win prizes in Made In L.A. 2014? It’s an interesting question, one that we are dying to know the answer to. But! We won’t know until the end of the Summer, which is a long time to wait. The question is particularly exciting considering the show was really great. It was a near all around hit for the institution and there are many, many artists who could steal prizes (especially since there are *three* chances to win this year). Not necessarily to sway any votes but to share who our favorites are, here are our five favorite artists from the show that we still can’t decide who will win our vote for the Public Recognition prize.

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Wu Tsang

Tsang was the show’s runaway hit for us and even stole votes quite quickly from people we saw also visiting the show. His work is in the small exhibition space when you walk into the courtyard, a space often devoted to stark installations or abstract video. Tsang’s work is A day in the life of bliss which follows local performer boychild as the subject as an almost post-sexual exploration presented in a dual channel projection complemented with mirrors, beanbags, and an extra projection to display (literal) text messages to act as asides to the audience. The piece is profound and insane and absolutely mesmerizing. It sucks you in, this abstract and parallel Los Angeles that features non-conforming gender persons taking you in. As they say, this is next level shit. It requires multiple visits.

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Jibade-Khalil Huffman

Perhaps the most surprising entry, Huffman’s entry is a poetic series of projections peppered throughout a rectangular exhibition space. Huffman’s works tend to tell stories, unfolding through juxtaposed visuals and filmed scenes. Not that I have a complete unpacking of the piece but it reads like a dense article that you skim over and “get” but don’t full get the picture upon first glance. The way it is displayed mirrors the story of (what I assume to be) a parent and child relationship or a coming home of sorts: you enter the piece greeted by outdoor projections, move into a minimal house-like space, and finish within the home, surrounded by videos and photos of the characters. The overall experience is so moving and you feel like a ghost within their situation.

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Samara Golden

Similar to Huffman, Golden casts the viewer of her piece—Thank You—as an integral part of it. Golden has been making works that literally mirror home and domestic scenes from alternate worlds, this one being a green and peachy and happy space made messy by ephemera of friends—and you. A tiered arrangement of 3D, local faces is set across from a couch with a giant television with a camera atop of it. Viewers are invited to take a moment to be captured on film, to stop and reflect themselves, in the hopes that Golden will somehow include their image in the work. The piece is calmly aggressive in that it forces the audience to be within it and to actively enjoy her world. This effort is also a wise means to make win the popular vote: it is the selfie-est art moment at the Hammer.

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Gerard & Kelly

The second most surprising entry was Gerard & Kelly’s Kiss Solo. Presented as a four channel video with sound pods aimed at viewers, you watch dancers take instructions of couples kissing, creating a literally masturbatory act of love. You can insert yourself into the arms of the dancer or observe them as an awkward, one-sided conversation. It’s a statement of gender and sexuality, that all deserve another half and to be loved. It’s presentation is perhaps the most well done as it is clean and clear and an articulate expression. Then again, it’s been done a few times before.

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Max Maslansky

Guilty pleasure? Sure—but Maslansky’s past, present, and future expression of passion is absolutely wonderful. The works are big and physical, both bawdy and bright. You can enjoy the work for being aesthetically exciting or for being incredibly provocative: Maslansky’s paintings are hands down the crowd pleasure of the show. A man being felated done in watery acrylics? A pastel woman being penetrated by a finger? A rainbow orgy? These taboo subjects are turned into Saturday morning cartoons, thanks to Maslansky. The effect is brilliant.

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Those are who we’re conflicted on voting for, which you can as early as today. Our guess for the Career Achievement Prize winner? Magdalena Suarez Frimkess and Michael Frimkess because duh. Marcia Hafif could also take this as well but the Frimkesses are just a wonderful PR package and undeniably lovable and historical.

What about the coveted Mohn Award, the one picked by an esteemed art jury? This is a very tough call because who the hell knows what their criteria is. Any of the above could take it but we have to say that the three we feel could take it most would have to be Wu Tsang, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, and Gerard & Kelly. The interactive and performative nature of Tsang not to mention how now it is is perfect while Huffman’s execution and interdisciplinary quality yet abstract inclination is wonderful—but, Gerard & Kelly’s ability to present a moving, sexuality skewing love moment is quite wonderful (and the performances will only enhance it). The only thing: Gerard & Kelly’s work is not new. It’s from 2012. (Their performances may be more contemporary, though!)

What are your thoughts on who should take how prizes in this Made In L.A.? Were you particularly impressed (or unimpressed) by the presentation? Let us know in the comments!

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