the 2004 California Biennial

Various Venues

Where previous California Biennials have made comprehensive statements about the salient formal or conceptual proclivities of contemporary art on the West Coast, this year’s version does not seem arranged according to any central theme. Nevertheless, the work on view is necessarily imbued with a sense of “place” and, in fact, organizers Elizabeth Armstrong and Irene Hoffmann are to be commended for highlighting artists who are all contending, in one way or another, with Lucy Lippard’s “lure of the local.”

Among the most compelling are the collectives VALDES (San Fernando Valley Institute of Design) and Futurefarmers, both of which are steeped in analyses of the fluctuating topographies of Los Angeles, attempting to reformulate such maligned developments as suburban sprawl, gated communities, and strip malls. In the case of VALDES, which consists of the Harvard-trained architects Jeffrey

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