Thursday, April 3, 2008

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement (and snacks)

Last Wednesday evening we headed over to LACMA for the opening of the new exhibit, "Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement". It runs for the public April 6th through September 8, 2008. I certainly cannot describe the show better than the writers at LACMA, so here is their blurb.

Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement is the largest exhibition of cutting-edge Chicano art ever presented at LACMA. Chicano art, traditionally described as work created by Americans of Mexican descent, was established as a politically and culturally inspired movement during the counterculture revolutions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This exhibition explores the more experimental tendencies within the Chicano art movement—ones oriented less toward painting and declarative polemical assertion than toward conceptual art, performance, film, photo-and media-based art, and "stealthy" artistic interventions in urban spaces. The exhibition includes approximately 125 works in all media, including painting and sculpture as well as installation, conceptual, video, performance art, and intermedia works that incorporate film, digital, and sound art. Artists featured are photographer Christina Fernandez, who documents the poetic and “phantom” in the urban landscape; Mario Ybarra Jr., who creates performances, site-specific installations and intermedia works; the “intermedia synaesthesia” of the seminal conceptual art group Asco; and the New York-based artist Nicola Lopez, who creates dramatic installations with drawings that extend from the wall into the gallery.

I may not know much about how to characterize Chicano-Latino art late into the 20th century and on into the 21st, but I know what I....

Above is an example of the first set of pieces that moved me. Taken in the mid 1970's, these are richly saturated and color drenched photographs of the vogue-ings of individual and small groups of Latinos in parks and urban environs. The eternal return dictates that the clothing in these photos are definitely having a second 15 minutes.

The above is particularly striking, but as an installation it needs to be seen in person and from the ground looking up into an antechamber of the main gallery. The effect is that of looking up into the underside of a twisted and torn bridge. There is another half to the bridge, and the two almost meet in the middle of the ceiling. Is the artist saying something about time spent as an under-the-bridge hanging subculture, or is this a statement about the imminent decay of urban infrastructure?

The above piece interested me due to the accompanying text that follows:

The 45 indigenous people that the Spanish settlers "discovered" were living, I assume, between what is now Olvera Street and the LA River, just a few hundred yards from my front porch. I like thinking that I walkon the same earth as they walked, and wondered last night what their lives were like prior to their discovery.

The above series is called "Breaking".

This witty piece is titled, "El Rey y Corona".

Above is an example of my favorite group, color and composition wise. I love the passionate lines and vivid shapes...

This last piece is from a group of photgraphs that are my favorite conceptually. To create these portraits, the artist pairs people with a life size photograph of someone else. These are intriguing to look at and leave some ambiguity with regard to statement, which is something I love in art. This particular piece is a portrait of the artist with Charles Bukowski.

Immediately afterward, we headed over to Jar, one of our all time favorites. We love to hang out with Margo at the bar. She brought over the obligatorily delicious handmade potato chips and horseradish-chive dip. The perfect nibble for starving yuppies posing as art afficionados.

I made the wise choice of ordering a Jar favorite, pureed English peas with fennel, roasted garlic and olive oil. Apparently this one time special was so frequently requested that Tracht added it to the spring menu. It is astoundingly delicious. Served warm, and not overly pureed so you still have a slightly al dente texture, with the tiniest sprinkling of feta cheese for hint of goat and radish shavings for some bite.


makeup said...

Great article, but you might want to make a "More..." tag somehwere in your article since its so damn long..

great work tho ;) keep it up!!

Jonah said...

I don't know if they got into this at the exhibit, but I learned in a college Chicano Art class that ASCO spray painted LACMA after they had been told by one of the curators there that Chicano Art was not suitable to be shown in an art museum. They decided that they would take matters into their own hands and install some art on the outside walls.

Food, she thought. said...

Jonah, I love resistance art! What great trivia!!!

the exhibit was so packed I didn't get a chance to read all the bios/commentary. I somehow doubt LACMA would be willing to expose themselves in this way given the context. But I plan to go back in a couple weeks when it is quieter and find out!