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Photos by Joe Pugliese
Drawing on the history of exquisite corpse, the surrealist parlor game, “Exquisite L.A.” began with a desire for connection—a wish for a blueprint of a collective body, a communal portrait of the current Los Angeles art world. We started photographing Volume 3 of the project toward the end of 2019, and since then, we’ve had to bend inward, physically retracting from one another. As we slowly welcome a return to physical connection, it’s impossible not to think of this project more vitally: in the ways our bodies need and relate to one another—how art is never created in a vacuum. Within the experience of a global pandemic, we must articulate new shapes—draw and redraw.
Consisting of photographic portraits, and spanning a year of consecutive Carla issues, each artist featured introduces the next, outlining their connection or interest in the artist that will follow them in the series. Rooted in classical portraiture, the photographs presented capture the artists in a neutral space, isolated from their work or studio. Their individual gaze, pose, or gesture becomes a continuous visual marker for the exquisite corpse that is Los Angeles. Pervasive in these portraits is a connective tissue of words—invisible, floating over the artists’ bodies and united by a thread of inspiration. In this issue, we pick up the thread with Kang Seung Lee, who was chosen by Beatriz Cortez in our previous issue.
Friedrich Kunath→Tristan Unrau→Nevine Mahmoud→
Lila de Magalhaes→Young Joon Kwak→Beatriz Cortez→
Kang Seung Lee→Leslie Dick→Amia Yokoyama→
Beatriz Cortez on Kang Seung Lee
Kang Seung Lee’s work engages collective voices gathered from different backgrounds and temporalities. He points out displaced lives and voids—absences in the history of art, in the history of the city, in the institutions that form future artists, and in the discourse that informs future thinkers. His work is filled with different languages, cultural perspectives, and global points of view. It illuminates multicultural spaces in the city of Los Angeles, discursive and academic violence in educational institutions in the city and beyond, and a history of erasure of queer lives, of immigrants, and of people who are often excluded and rendered invisible. One of the things I love about his work is the visibility given to these spaces; these are the spaces that we inhabit, and these voids are not invisible in his work.
Kang Seung Lee on Leslie Dick
Leslie Dick wears many hats. She is an amazing artist, writer, critic, and a fantastic teacher. Her classes at CalArts—first year MFA Critique and Freud and Lacan—are mind blowing and have changed many artists’ lives. Certainly mine. In her classes and meetings, she says it’s okay to share our feelings and to talk about them in our work, and she shares her own with us. Her compelling and articulate conversations about love, loss, fear, jealousy, and insecurity are woven together with feminist and queer theory and history, and give new meaning to what we make, changing how we look at art. Whether it’s a meeting, a piece of writing, or a conversation over coffee, Leslie gives everything to it. Because she cares. I am very grateful to have her in my life.
Leslie Dick on Amia Yokoyama
Amia Yokoyama is an artist who works within a space of paradox and contradiction. Her digital animations give us a world of utopian bodies, tenuously held together with the dynamic magnetism of marionettes: they fall, fly, and walk through vast spaces, buoyant and bouncing, body parts coming apart and back together again. A body in pieces, yes, but also a body that holds those pieces together, moving through time and space. Her sculptural works—made of porcelain and complex glazes—propose another kind of imaginary body: these melting, goopy girls are materially present in a completely different register. Protuberant and bulgy, they are shiny personifications of a life force. Their solid curves counter the evanescent and multiple video girls, balancing out their light forms. Right now, the artwork I care about most proposes a dynamic tension between our 3-dimensional bodies (weighty, sculptural) and the 2-dimensional virtual image (dematerialized). Amia is a light in every room she enters. Her work makes that light take form as objects, as artworks.
This photo essay was originally published in Carla issue 25.