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Los Angeles Poverty Department, State of Incarceration, 2010–. Performance view, January 31, 2014.

Los Angeles Poverty Department

Queens Museum

Los Angeles Poverty Department, State of Incarceration, 2010–. Performance view, January 31, 2014.

In 1984, performance artist John Malpede relocated from New York to Los Angeles and took a job as an outreach paralegal at Inner City Law Center. Out of the ICLC’s offices on Skid Row, Malpede held theater workshops for the area’s homeless population, assembling a core of performers now known as the Los Angeles Poverty Department. For nearly thirty years, LAPD has remained a neighborhood fixture while also conducting residencies across the country. The collective has now received its first museum retrospective, “Do you want the cosmetic version, or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985–2014,” curated by Larissa Harris.

By fortuitous coincidence, the exhibition’s opening weekend also marked the close of “Rituals of Rented Island,” the Whitney Museum of American Art’s astutely kooky survey of 1970s performance in and around the dilapidated lofts of SoHo (“

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