Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
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
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Art in Isolation
with Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Photo: Paul Mpagi Seupya.

In the coming weeks, Carla founder and editor-in-chief Lindsay Preston Zappas will be hosting chats with members of the L.A. art community via Instagram Live on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

The following was edited for web from an Instagram Live conversation on April 10, 2020 at 5:30 PST.

LPZ. How are you doing? I’m so curious to talk to you, specifically because you have a major solo show up right now, and I wanted to talk to you about that process: of making the show, hanging the show, and putting it up right [as] all of this [was] happening.

PMS: Oh god.

[Both laugh]

LPZ: It’s a beautiful show, too. So good.

PMS: Were you able to see it in some way?

LPZ: Not in person—I haven’t seen it in person.

PMS: Yeah. Up until the day of the opening, I was thinking that people could go by appointment or something, but I think the Saturday of the opening was the day that the social distancing thing started. I know large gatherings were not allowed.

LPZ: Yeah. It was March 14th, right? That’s wack timing. 

PMS: [Laughs] Everything just came in bits and pieces. You work on a show for so long, a body of work, and then everything—

We were juggling the install between [my] classes and final things, and I think the Wednesday before the opening, it was apparent that we [couldn’t] have lots of people there. By this point we realized that large gatherings couldn’t happen, but we were hoping that maybe a few people could come by, but it really was the opposite of an event to be able to share with friends. I haven’t had a big show in Los Angeles since five, six years ago—

LPZ: Right. So many of us know your work from seeing it in New York, [but it] is so exciting to have a major show like yours here, and to see it in person.

PMS: I know… [laughs]

LPZ: So how has that been, that arc of making the show, prepping for the show, hanging the show, and now it’s like… here? [Left hand in flatlining motion, laughs]

PMS: It’s in limbo. Fortunately, there’s the idea that it can stay for whenever things open up, and then it will get its chance to be seen. I think the most exciting thing, for me, is that it’s the first time that I will have ever had a show where I live. Being able to be present [for] more than just the install, opening, and then maybe going back for a talk. For all the time I lived in New York, I didn’t have a big show in New York. My shows were elsewhere, like Minneapolis and Vancouver.

LPZ: Right. But to have your community, your students, and the people that you’re in conversation with on a daily basis to be able to come see the show throughout—that’s really exciting that they’re going to extend it and it can have a life after this.

PMS: Yeah, and just for me to be able to see the work—having shows in New York is great, because I lived there for so long, and I have so many close friends, and so much of the work is tied to there as much as Los Angeles, so friends could spend time with it. I just haven’t been able to. I was just so excited to be able to go see the show, and walk through with friends, and live with it.

LPZ: I wanted to talk to you about this body of work in particular, and the physicality and materiality of it, because it’s photography, which we’re used to looking [at] through digital interfaces. I’ve seen your show now only on a digital interface, and I do feel like something is lacking. 

I was hoping that you could speak to that gap between the physicality of them and the flat, photographic nature versus the purpose of seeing them in person, or the desire that you have for people to see that materiality.

PMS: Oh yeah, because the scale is so important. I’m thinking about them in terms of the scale of what’s represented in the image, almost like a sculptural relationship to the apparatus, the idea of the viewer being implicated by the device that’s turned on them, but also paradoxically closed off. Each image that you see is made up in a space that is a closed loop—

LPZ: Right. So you’re using mirrors where the viewer stands, or should be. There’s a mirror that’s closing the photographic loop.

PMS: Yeah. For most of the works that you see, aside from a few— Actually, I lie. Every single one in that show, you are looking at the surface of a mirror—

LPZ: I think what’s really interesting [are] the iPhones in this work and that surface we see coming back to us.

PMS: The idea for the show came from some outtakes I had of a friend taking some selfies in between me figuring out the setup. There are so many pictures, and I incorporated those into other works, because I’m always folding material in on itself, but one of them just stuck with me after I did the project for the Whitney Biennial—which, I think a lot of people thought I was presenting my work, but I was presenting the work of friends who had been making photographs alongside me.

LPZ: So you’re taking photographs with your camera, but often, there’s a second camera in the shot, and you’re presenting all of those pictures: ones that friends were taking while you were making your work. So it’s like B-sides… Not even B-sides, but a second look—

PMS: —It was a second look. The show that I did at the Team (bungalow) in Venice three years ago, and then a show in Chicago in 2018—for those shows, I always included one or two of those images that have two cameras, and the first way that people described them was that those friends were staging making pictures, or modeling being photographs, and I was like, “These friends are also their own photographers. They have their own agency here.” And so that’s where the idea came from to represent a selection of the images from the camera that you can see in my work, but I wanted to flip it and call into question some ideas of authorship.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, A conversation around pictures (_1090454) (2019). Archival pigment print, 45 x 34 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

LPZ: So much of the work, too, feels collaborative. It feels really community-oriented.

PMS: Yeah. There’s an interdependence. So whenever you see something happening, the thing is happening. Nothing is staged. If you see a camera apparatus, that is that friend [making a photograph]. If you see someone else handling material or an object, that is actually happening. If you see an [cell phone], it is also making images. 

This outtake of the cell phone—the selfie—stuck with me, and then I stopped asking, [and] stopped caring if other things came into the pictures, because often it would be that we’re hanging out, chatting, figuring out how we’re going to make some pictures, and I might have a few ideas sketched out. There’s always other cameras—there’s cell phones, whatever. There’s always the—“I’m going to get the camera, now let’s put away our cellphones” — and I just stopped being like, “Let’s put away our cell phones.”

[LPZ laughs]

PMS: Then, the idea came up [that] there’s this closed circuit that I talked about, of making and viewing wrapped up within the primary camera pointed at the mirror.” It looks like you’re standing in front of a scene, but that scene is already closed off to you. It should incorporate the viewer into its composition, but these [photographs] don’t. 

There were two things that came together: this other photographer, Aspen Mays, had mentioned that she really loved this idea that she couldn’t tell what the setup and the event was in my work. We were hanging out in my studio, and she’s like, “I love this thing,” and also that the cell phones always pointed toward a circulation outside of the images. 

They were kind of the way out, because those images could circulate on Instagram, or text messages, and they often revealed—and that’s the thing that you can’t see when you see the show digitally. In those little cell phone screens, they sometimes reveal our faces which might be turned from my camera, or they reveal a wider aspect of the setup.

LPZ: I feel like, these days, when livestream is so much of our way of connecting, your work almost seems slightly prophetic. You’re photographing these in-person, physical, tactile, really loving-looking experiences, but then there’s also the allusion of the phone. I like this idea of what you said about the phone going elsewhere, because often that’s the thing that pulls us out of the physical experience and into this rabbit hole of other places.

PMS: Yeah, yeah. Also, they’re just fun.

[Both laugh]

LPZ: Are you making art right now? 

PMS: No [emphatically]. Everyone’s just scrambling. Every gallery is scrambling, artists are just trying to find ways to stay connected. There hasn’t really been much free time, or maybe there has been—no, honestly, it’s been overwhelming. I’m not making work. I brought my camera home, and I’m making a bunch of really bad pictures, but I might as well keep taking some pictures, but no, no.

LPZ: I was thinking, too, about how after a major show, I don’t go back to the studio. I almost have to wait for the show to close or something, like that’s all part of the thing. Also, the fact that we’re all in isolation and your work is so communal, and involves other bodies, other people, and physical touch, which we’re not allowed right now. That also presents a whole other challenge for you as an artist.

PMS: That’s something to be seen, if this lasts for six months.

But that’s also one of those “I don’t know” questions. I mean, the irony is that I was feeling [that] this new situation has kind of felt overwhelming, having to catch up with having to learn so many new skills. I have avoided, always, any live media—I don’t like moving images, I don’t like video—and so things like this have been really challenging. 

There’s been a lot of overwhelming catch up like that, but in a broader sense, I had been feeling overwhelmed by a lot of things, and wishing for when I could finally take a break, and then this happens, and it’s not the break that anyone ever wanted. But I was like, “God, I wish I could relax for a part of the summer, and actually spend time with friends rather than being gone all the time,” and now, everything is canceled. I guess I’ll be stuck here. Luckily we’re in LA, and we have some green space.

LPZ: I know, I know. Even just walking through the neighborhoods has been so lovely. I feel like I, [and] so many people in the art world, have been pushing all fall and through the art fairs and Frieze. I feel like so many people were like, “In March, I’m going to take a break.” This is not that. We’re all at home, but [that] is not what this is. Even though we are presented with this time, mentally, it’s very different, right?

PMS: Yeah, yeah it is.

[Both laugh]

LPZ: Is there anything that you’re doing that provides some peace for you—reading, cooking, walking, or anything like that?

PMS: We’ve been doing a lot of walking and cooking. I never realized how much time having to cook every meal takes up, you know? This afternoon, we took a four-and-a-half mile walk after the rain. I kind of like these rainy days, because you don’t feel guilty for staying inside.

LPZ: Yeah, yeah, which we’re doing—

PMS: —Which we’re doing. Right now, I kind of want the sun because I need to get out of the house. So taking walks, pulling weeds in the yard, planting things. Some friends from Colorado sent some seeds. We’ve been trading clippings with friends.

LPZ: It sounds like we’re having pretty mirrored experiences. I’ve been doing a lot of gardening, cooking, walking—I mean, the things that are accessible to us right now. And again, I feel like gardening is very physical, and cooking too, and we’re not getting very many IRL experiences these days.

PMS: Yeah, and it’s been time to get away from the screen. I don’t know if you have [had] this thing happen, but for the first week of this, I had on my phone that thing that’s supposed to tell you to stop being on your phone. I got some notification that said, “Your screen time is up by six hours and 41 minutes a day.”

[Both laugh]

LPZ: It’s like, what other time is there?

PMS: Like, this is awful… So it’s just time to—cooking, or gardening—it’s just everything is a way [to get away].

LPZ: I know. You can’t flip through Instagram or the news if your fingers are in dirt. Anything else you wanted to chat about? Your show— I just think it’s so exciting. I’m thrilled that it’s up and will remain up, and we’ll all have a chance to see it in person.

PMS: Yeah. [crosses fingers]

LPZ: Because that’s not the case with certain exhibitions that have to accommodate other schedules.

PMS: I think that if the opening date had been a week later, and we hadn’t finished install[ing], it wouldn’t [have opened]. I put two posts in highlights of little walkthroughs… so we’re just trying to make do with whatever material we got. 

If the opening had been a week later, the show would’ve just been pushed back, you know? There’s the artists whose shows are scheduled after mine—now, those are indefinitely canceled. I was very lucky that at least the show is up, and there’s something for us—however [we] have to adapt—there’s something we have to work with.

LPZ: Totally. One way—bright side—is to look at it like the images are circulating, [and] we’re all looking at them and becoming familiar with them. When we are able to go see them in person, we’ll already be in your conversation. 

It’s almost like this opposite way of how it often works for me as a writer and a critic—to go into a show and immediately form an opinion or jump to writing about it—and this seems like the opposite effect, because we’re going to be getting a lot of context and conversations and time to stew on it.

PMS: Yeah, yeah.

LPZ: I don’t know…

[Both laugh]PMS: Hopefully we’ll get to see it.

This review was originally published in Carla issue 20.

Paul Mpagi Seupya, A conversation about around pictures (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figure (0X5A0918) (2019). Archival pigment print, 75 x 50 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Drop Scene (0X5A1916) (2019). Archival pigment print, 75 x 50 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Paul Mpagi Seupya, A conversation about around pictures (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Studio (0X5A5006, 0X5A5007) (2020). Archival pigment print, diptych, 75 x 50 inches each. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Model Study (0X5A4029) (2017). Archival pigment print, 60 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Screen (0X5A8295) (2019). Archival pigment print, 60 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

Lindsay Preston Zappas is an L.A.-based artist, writer, and founder and editor-in-chief of Carla. She is an arts correspondent for KCRW. She received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2013.

More by Lindsay Preston Zappas