Critics’ Picks

Young Joon Kwak, Surveillance Mirror Vaginis, 2018, convex acrylic security mirror, fiberglass resin, wood, silver leaf, 79 1/4 x 48 1/2 x 8 1/2".

Los Angeles

Young Joon Kwak and Mutant Salon

Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE)
6522 Hollywood Boulevard
July 11–August 26, 2018

Finding that the usual wall text has been placed on the ceiling is an early, cheeky indication that this confluence of sculptural and performance-based works is anything but typical. Two disparate collections open “CAVERNOUS”—a group of diminutive, anonymous genital sculptures borrowed from the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives (the world’s largest repository of LGBTQ material), and a trio of outrageous wigs from Hollywood Wigs, a store located just a few paces down Hollywood Boulevard. These objects cue the themes of Young Joon Kwak’s sculptures: sexual figuration and transformation. For example, Hermaphroditus’s Reveal III (all works cited, 2018), which smartly melds abstraction and realism, renders the body as a sheet of resin bending gracefully under its own weight. Nearby, Surveillance Mirror Vaginis reflects the other sculptures in the room in its vaginal yet convex mirrored surface.

Videos of performances by fellow Los Angeles artist Johanna Went from the early 1980s serve as an entrée to the other portion of the exhibition, where Mutant Salon (a queer-trans-femme-POC collective cofounded by Kwak) has taken over the space with a ferocious critical mess, fashioning a creative zone of sexual anarchy and material excess. Platforms, draperies, and banners carve out spaces for performance and protection. Visitors can lounge in a tent (Sarah Gail’s Hibernate), play a game (Free Nell’s JEEP JEEP), and find refuge under a sparkly umbrella (Kim Ye’s Throw Glitter, Not Shade). “Post-consumer waste” is a common material, and the stuff makes up the bulk of Alli Miller and Thinh Nguyen’s suite of Trash Flags featuring slang terms for vagina (“minge,” “pink taco,” and “noo noo,” for example). The lesson is queer: everywhere, becoming.