Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Launch Party August 19th at Blum and Poe
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale
by Thomas Duncan

Broken Language
at Shulamiit Nazarian
by Angella d'Avignon

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum
by Matt Stromberg

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects
by Aaron Horst

Home
at LACMA
by Simone Krug

Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
by Hana Cohn
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures: Alice Könitz and LAMOA Catherine Wagley
Interview with Penny Slinger Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Letter to the Editor
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Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
by Jonathan Griffin

Jennie Jieun Lee
by Stuart Krimko

Trisha Baga
by Lindsay Preston Zappas

Jimmie Durham
by Molly Larkey

Parallel City
by Hana Cohn

Jason Rhodes
by Matt Stromberg
Generous
Structures
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature by Thomas Duncan
Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler by Stuart Krimko
Karl Haendel by Aaron Horst
Wolfgang Tillmans by Eli Diner
Ma by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
The Rat Bastard Protective Association by Pablo Lopez
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
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Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews:
Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
Molly Larkey, Aaron Horst,
Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
Stuart Krimko, Matt Stromberg
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Hana Cohn, Eli Diner,
Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
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Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

More
Wound
than Ruin

Center: Leonhard Hurzlmeier, right: Nick van Woert. Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

The former Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center building is a dusty pink, vaguely brutalist box that quietly, and stagnantly, sits amidst 
the cluttered, imperfectly gridded sprawl of South Central Los Angeles, haphazardly demarcated by the 10 freeway’s horizontal cleaving of the city. Adjacent to the historic West Adams district and within earshot of the freeway’s monophonic din, the hospital primarily tended to residents from its surrounding low-income communities until it swiftly shuttered in 2013 amidst allegations of criminal misconduct. Its neglected patients and workers were hurriedly swept out, seemingly absolved of responsibility for the building’s now-petrified contents.

As a hollowed-out shell situated in a neighborhood increasingly brushed by waves of gentrification, the hospital and its innards were expeditiously acquired by CIM Group, a real-estate investment firm that develops luxury projects in so-called “qualified communities.” (1) John Wolf, a Los Angeles-based art advisor who counts CIM Group as one of his corporate clients, (2) dreamed up plans for the site in advance of its eventual conversion into residential condominiums, and in October and November mounted a large-scale exhibition 
that occupied all but one floor of the derelict hospital. The exhibition spanned the administrative offices, cafeteria, pharmacy, and ICU, as well as the surgical, maternity, and psychiatric wards. Work by 84 artists—including Jenny Holzer, Gregory Crewdson, Matthew Day Jackson, Katherine Bernhardt, Marlene Dumas, and Daniel Joseph Martinez—was dispersed throughout the facility in often bizarre configurations, while the vestigial medical detritus remained largely intact. Whether a speculative vanity project designed to generate hype for luxury condominiums, or an honest attempt at fostering critical discourse by granting artists access to a contentious site, the exhibition’s premise and execution brings to light crucial questions regarding the urgency of fully excavating a site’s context, as well as the complicated politics of romanticizing spectacles of urban abandonment.

The shuttered hospital currently stands as an immoveable, vernacular allegory of institutional failure, avarice, and exploitation, of both the residents it purported to serve, primarily Latinos and people of color, as well as its staff. For years, a federal investigation revealed, former doctors and administrators operated a barbaric scheme that involved illegally performing unnecessary tests and procedures on homeless patients, “recruited” from Skid Row, in a bid to defraud Medicaid and amass insurance payouts. (3) In a similarly sinister collusion, a separate lawsuit also alleged that elderly and mentally impaired patients were virtually imprisoned in the psychiatric ward. (4) Upon litigation, the hospital abruptly folded into its current state—its 212 beds were swiftly emptied of patients and hundreds of people were suddenly unemployed. (5)

Tanya Batura, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

While The Human Condition, both the exhibition’s title and its passively generic conceptual umbrella, aimed to “re-contextualize the hospital’s functional history” and “transcend the building’s original intention” by “invit[ing] artists to explore the corporal [sic] and psychological experience of being human,” (6) it also nonetheless attempted to strategically activate the hospital’s original narrative as a formal element of the exhibition. The language in the press release encouraged both artists and viewers to “explore the dilapidated remains” of a hospital that, according to organizers, “proudly opened in 1971 as the first Black-owned hospital in Los Angeles.” This reads as a couched attempt to frame the building, and by proxy the exhibition itself, as a cultural (and very specifically racial) landmark in West Adams, where, the press release stresses, “years of neglect are now giving way to reinvestment” (7)—a boilerplate sales pitch for developer-fueled gentrification.

Despite Wolf’s encouragement to view this particular hospital as a uniform stage for the multitude of human experiences that a hospital in general can emblematize, his simultaneous focus on the site’s historical narrative and the significance of its West Adams environs are key criteria for evaluating the exhibition’s context. While the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center may indeed have been among the first black-owned hospitals in the city (definitively confirming this has proven difficult), both the Rose-Netta Hospital (8) and the Julian W Ross Medical Center (9) were founded earlier, in 1941 and 1957, respectively. At the time, segregation and racism triumphed in insidiously infiltrating the medical system, and as a result black physicians often fought to establish integrated hospitals in an attempt to patch the distinct dearth of healthcare options afforded to citizens of color.

As has been extensively documented historically, the housing climate proved similarly hostile.
 In 1943, several years after the Rose-Netta Hospital was established nearby in South Los Angeles, 30 
newly settled black homeowners in West Adams were met with bigoted resistance from their predominantly white neighbors, who attempted 
to invoke a restrictive covenant, an exceedingly common practice used 
to “maintain the racial integrity” of white neighborhoods. (10) This particular covenant sought to establish an all-white neighborhood through the year 2053—over one-hundred years into the future. The case was eventually dismissed by the Los Angeles Superior Court, and in 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants violated the 14th Amendment. (11) After 
a period of white flight, West Adams became a seat of black prosperity until befalling economic despair, largely spurred by the 10 freeway’s dissection of the neighborhood in the 1960s; now, it exemplifies a familiar narrative as a predominantly low-income, minority community on the cusp of gentrification due to astronomical housing prices elsewhere in the city.

Left: Gregory Crewdson, right: Matthew Day Jackson, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

The neglected Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center silently floats atop the tumultuous brew of these complex, deeply rooted racial and geographical histories. Nearly four years after the hospital’s demise, the building embodies the aura of a chalky, sickly flush, something that The Human Condition seemed either exploitative of, unaware of, or oddly muted to.

For the exhibition, the surgical, maternity, and psychiatric wards that previously harbored vulnerable and underserved patients stood littered with a random array of humanoid sculptures and clunky equipment: surgical lights, oxygen valves, x-ray illuminators, unidentifiable machines. Walls painted in various shades of institutional pastel supported large-scale paintings that sat perilously close to swollen ceiling panels, some of which had sagged and burst 
from the creeping pressure of errant bulging wires. Dust, iodine stains, and fugitive pills coated sooty linoleum floors amid misplaced installations; cartoonish pain assessment charts, pharmacy slips, and even medical records (a blatant HIPAA violation?) dispersed across unkempt countertops. Several whiteboards still listed the names of patients next to their corresponding bed numbers, and in one room a nurse’s scrawl mundanely memorialized the hospital’s last day in operation: April 8, 2013. “How do you feel today?,” the sign read in mismatched lettering, “Happy and Grateful.”

Throughout this diorama, works of art were physically enmeshed in, yet conceptually isolated from, their surroundings, and with few exceptions, failed to transcend pedestrian interpretations of the site and probe the litany of potential critical inquiries that the hospital and its environs invite. A limited number of works benefitted from this context: Kendall Carter’s installation that featured
a Jim Crow-era sign delineating segregated restrooms functioned as the only work to directly address the presciently raw fallout of systemic racism and institutional failure. On a poetic note, Tony Matelli’s immaculate bronze renderings of weeds and plants—verdant yet rusted fossils sprouting from structural fractures—read as indexical, ruminative monuments to the calcified site. In other cases, the site’s context detracted from otherwise intriguing work: the maternity ward read as an unnecessarily dogmatic setting for Polly Borland’s psychologically arresting images of adult men swathed in infant clothing and engaging in cosplay; Katherine Bernhardt’s agreeably prismatic painting of fruit betrayed a similar sentiment in the context of the hospital’s former cafeteria. Elsewhere, predominantly figurative works squatted amidst the matrix of vacated medical wards,
 and in a didactic reenactment of the exhibition’s thematic conceit, seemed to function solely as surrogates for the former presence of actual people.

Tony Matelli, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

In failing to account for the “specific” in site-specific, the majority of these works instead read as potential props for the exhibition’s de facto subject: the hospital’s uncanny, forsaken setting. An immersive mise-en-scène, this setting was curatorially staged as a singular entropic artwork, ultimately rendering the surrounding work irrelevant. This evident privileging of the site’s physical decrepitude called the veracity of The Human Condition’s narrative into question: the suspiciously clean box of latex gloves, the dusty, jaundiced medical folders, and the perfectly askew furniture and equipment all suddenly functioned as trompe-l’oeil embellishments designed to buttress the mirage of hurried desertion.

Unarguably falling within the purview of so-called “ruin porn,” 
this attempted reincarnation recasts the hospital as an aestheticized—and utterly anesthetized—totem of contemporary urban blight. While the romantic invocation of ruins in poetic and artistic contexts dates back centuries, spanning Renaissance formulations of ruins as fragmented connections to our Classical past, to twentieth century conjurations of ruins as dust-ridden premonitions of our apocalyptic future, the languished Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center functions in an entirely different context. The lyrical framing of the hospital as a ruin serves as a pretense for its reality as a site in developmental transition. Despite being treated with a fetishistic romanticism generally reserved for our atrophying remnants of the past, the hospital ultimately represents a vestige of the present—one that simultaneously presages imminent future displacement. This in itself carries with it problematic ethical undertones.

Rather than critically engaging with the site itself, and the innate political and conceptual complexities that this would entail, The Human Condition solely emphasized, and ultimately exploited as spectacle, the hospital’s general state of physical deterioration—rendering the site as 
a content-less formal abstraction primed for occupation by figurative works of art. As a spectacle of present-day urban peril rather than abandonment—from its narrative of criminal negligence to its potential role as a harbinger of dislocation for minority communities—the hospital is ultimately a spectacle of recent suffering; more wound than ruin. Wolf’s curatorial premise not only muted the intersecting narratives 
that underwrite the site’s history, but also passively invoked the notion of black ownership as an identity-based, site-specific selling point for an exhibition that predominantly featured white artists. In doing so, he manages to cajole visitors and collectors (either the culturally curious or the cultural elite) to a site expectant of gentrification by that same demographic.

Polly Borland, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Christopher Reynolds, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Polly Borland, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Marc Horowitz, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Bettina Hubby, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Chantal Joffe, Human Condition (2016) (installation view). Image courtesy of John Wolf. Photo: Gintare Bandinskaite.

Originally published in Carla issue 7

(1) CIM Group, Investments: http://www.cimgroup.com/ investments.

(2) Bianca Barragan, “Abandoned West Adams hospital will be transformed into an art gallery,” Curbed LA, Sept. 30, 2016, http://la.curbed. com/2016/9/30/13126816/public-art-abandoned- hospital-west-adams.

(3) “3 hospitals accused of using homeless for fraud,” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2008, http://articles.latimes. com/2008/aug/07/local/me-skidrow7.

(4) Bernard J. Wolfson, “Suit says Pacific Health Corp. hospital conspired to fill beds,” The Orange County Register, March 6, 2014, http://www.ocregister.com/ articles/hospital-604063-health-case.html.

(5) Chad Terhune, “Closure of three Southland hospitals may be part of a trend,” Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/03/business/ la-fi-pacific-hospitals-closing-20130404.

(6) The Human Condition, 2016. http://www.humanconditionexhibition.com.

(7) Ibid.

(8) Mitchell F. Rice and Woodrow Jones, Jr., “Descriptions of Selected Black Hospitals,” Public Policy and the Black Hospital: From Slavery to Segregation to Integration. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994), 52.

(9) Mayo R. DeLilly, “The Julian W. Ross Medical Center,” Journal of the National Medical Association 55,
 no. 4 (1963): 261–267.

(10) Rick Moss, “Not Quite Paradise: The Development of the African American Community in Los Angeles through 1950,” California History 75, no. 3 
(Fall 1996): 234-235.

(11) Ibid.