Andrew Berardini

  • Made In L.A. 2016: “a, the, though, only”

    The third edition of the Hammer’s self-described locals-only biennial (although some participants lived in Los Angeles only briefly) arrives otherwise themeless, save for its cryptically beautiful subtitle—a, the, though, only—provided by the poet Aram Saroyan.While the show includes radically fewer artists than previous iterations (a mere twenty-six), it nevertheless showcases a broad range of practices, with musical scores by Wadada Leo Smith, choreography by Adam Linder, films by Arthur Jafa and Laida Lertxundi, public-access activism by

  • Elaine Cameron-Weir, Metaphor, 2016, stainless steel, lead, sand, 9' x 78“ x 27”.
    picks April 13, 2016

    Elaine Cameron-Weir

    An alchemist has abandoned her laboratory. A long adobe wall serving as a threshold wears licks of neon like lightning contained, along with angled metal arms holding liquid candles and rearview mirrors, large pearly clamshells, and gleaming silver. Concocted from terrazzo tabletops shaped like butterfly wings and the spotless chrome of lab equipment, the stations beyond the wall, including Sentry Tactical Like Prey with Evolutionary Eyes of a Predator on the Wing 2 (all works 2016), hold flickering flames of cooking frankincense—filling the vast rooms with a churchy and ancient aroma. Within

  • Nathaniel Mellors, The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview, 2012–13 HD video, color, sound, 24 minutes.
    picks March 21, 2016

    Nathaniel Mellors

    It’s like watching television, but even more fucked up. There are many ways, of course, to fuck up a television show, but artist and musician Nathaniel Mellors, for his debut solo exhibition here, gives us the shape and cues of a British sitcom as warped by the absurdist tragicomedy of Samuel Beckett and the squelching oeuvre of Paul McCarthy. Mellors’s video series “Ourhouse,” 2010–16, for instance, features a chubby man known as The Object eating and excreting books whose contents corrupt the lives of a nuclear family with walk-on troglodytes and casual cannibalism.

    Spend an hour in this world

  • Julie Weitz, Aftermath, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes 40 seconds.

    Julie Weitz

    Beyond a glass front door, metal chains dangled breezily over a carpet of pink eggshell foam, which sprang back buoyantly from each footstep, absorbing its sound. Velvety black walls led beyond a wall of mirrors into the soft, gently throbbing darkness of the gallery’s main room. A deep, almost sepulchral pulse seeped in from adjoining rooms, resonating with spooky syncopation, accompanied here and there by the jingle of spectral bells, a phantom trumpet. Six projections and three works on flatscreens, angled in odd directions through the space’s irregular rooms, were doubled in the mirrors’

  • Left: Dealer Monika Sprüth and artist Barbara Kruger. Right: Collector Eli Broad and artist John Baldessari. (All photos: Owen Kolasinski/
    diary February 26, 2016

    Dear John

    ACROSS THE STREET from sunset tourists posing for snaps in front of Chris Burden’s Urban Light, jumping distance from chopped-up sections of the Berlin Wall, the first-floor windows of an International Style two-story building read over and over again, I WILL NOT MAKE ANY MORE BORING ART.

    An exercise cooked up in 1971 for a class at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the words adorn these windows but also currently a hallway downtown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and are available on pencils as merch across the street at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a marketing tie-in for a

  • View of “Robert Barry,” 2015. Photo: Joshua White.

    Robert Barry

    Passing through Rudolph Schindler’s Bethlehem Baptist Church, one witnessed fifty-one glimmering words, which whispered from the walls of this nearly forgotten architectural monument. One of only a few modernist masterpieces still intact in South Central Los Angeles, and one of even fewer located in this once-segregated neighborhood (the result of restrictive housing covenants), the church was built in 1944 to serve an African American congregation. It would later be sold and then abandoned before undergoing a partial renovation by Reverend Melvin Ashley in 2013. After briefly serving his

  • William Leavitt, The small laboratory, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks January 25, 2016

    William Leavitt

    A sci-fi laboratory and a suburban patio weirdly mingle in William Leavitt’s installation The small laboratory (all works 2015). Both a sculpture and a set for an as yet unpublished play, the work includes a bit of repurposed rattan crowning a mysterious black obelisk, while nearby, a long, clear cylinder bubbles milky liquid, and terra-cotta-potted tropical houseplants brush against copper-spray-painted found objects naked with wires. In the background, plastic tubes are topped with the kind of painted spheroid most commonly found in grade-schoolers’ models of the solar system. The installation

  • View of “Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen,” 2015.

    Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen

    An observatory for barely unpacked product and its packaging, this complex, interweaving installation of Chadwick Rantanen’s machines and Bill Jenkins’s illuminations begged for extended description; the exhibition’s subtle mechanical weirdness and play of light created a viewing situation that demanded methodical observation. Like much Conceptual assemblage, the show tugged at language while skirting easy characterization. Attempts to translate the installation into words create labored, angular poetry.

    Hanging above a table sloping inward and split down its middle, a contraption made of black

  • Tala Madani, The Gift, 2015, oil on linen, 20 × 17 1/8".

    “Tala Madani: First Light”

    Cock-dragging baby-men leer with amusing hubris and dazed melancholy in the paintings and stop-motion animations of Tala Madani. In this exhibition of works from the past two years, the Tehran-born, Los Angeles–based artist’s cast of rotund fellows prance and lactate in a sinister, metaphysical darkness cut sparely with light. A grim, corporeal humor bubbles through while Madani’s (mostly) bald subjects suffer odd torments; in one oil painting, The X, 2015, a figure clad in a black thong grins submissively as disembodied hands stretch his limbs

  • Left: Simone Forti in performance. Right: The Box director Mara McCarthy and LAXART deputy director Catherine Taft. (Photos: Andrew Berardini)
    diary November 16, 2015

    Simone Says

    FRIDAY NIGHT I spent at Cafe Figaro—a Parisian-inspired street cafe in Los Feliz—commiserating with somber French citizens speaking in hushed voices over the clink of glasses. Their grief was still on my mind as I headed the following night to the Box for a rare performance by veteran choreographer and artist Simone Forti. The eighty-year-old legend performed a dance of simple movements, shivering a flashlight in her hand as she swirled and crawled across the concrete floors of the gallery. Behind her played the quiet susurrus of the river in a projected video. Forti’s finger caressed the ground,

  • Diana Thater, Delphine (detail), 1999, five-channel digital video projection (color, sound, infinite duration), nine monitors, light filters, dimensions variable.

    “Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination”

    Cackling temple monkeys and frolicsome dolphins, star-crossed dung beetles and dancing honeybees. For more than two decades, Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater has produced immersive installations that combine scientific inquiry and perceptual magic to ponder the ways in which animals animate and interact with their environments. Accompanied by a catalogue, this full-scale retrospective—which begins with the artist’s breakthrough 1992 video installation Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 and Part 2—will be the most

  • View of “New Babylon,” 2015.
    picks August 11, 2015

    “New Babylon”

    The two-by-four skeleton of a curious structure designed by architect Joakim Dahlqvist stands almost naked in the center of a modern white-walled and concrete-floored gallery. This half-built house has been painted in a bright hue that evokes the color of a blueprint and is cutely called “Safe Harbor” by its manufacturer, and work by twelve artists have been hung outside and inside its walls.

    Organized by artist Michael Dopp, “New Babylon” follows his previous collaborative projects: the defunct club No Vex, the somewhat nomadic bar, Dopp’s, and the most recently opened shed gallery Arturo Bandini