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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 Yves B. Golden, who was chosen by Amia Yokoyama 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→
Yves B. Golden→Amanda Harris Williams→Lauren Halsey→
Amia Yokoyama on Yves B. Golden
Yves came into my life on a day when the sky broke open and poured out sun and snow and steam. As if on the wisps of one of her poems, we fell into each other’s arms, bathing in sulfuric waters. This was no accident. She is someone whose life and work stay densely intertwined. She works in the ways of word magic, sound magic, material magic; mediums of radiation that calcify art into our collective body on a cellular level. With each step, she turns existence into verse, and when the dust settles, we are left with her art echoing into seeds we must plant again and again in the fertile soil of her incantations. She is an artist who works with intersections, knitting clouds from multiple forms of creation for us to hop across, taking us from sound to sculpture to poetry to activism to installation to performance to care. She manifests lifeforce in collaboration with others, weaves networks of support, and reminds us to hold each other.
Yves B. Golden on Amanda Harris Williams
Amanda Harris Williams’ passion for generative critique, freedom dreaming, beauty, and knowledge has made her an optimistic, resounding voice within the internet’s transnational information networks and an inspiration to many curious, expanding minds all over. Discourse on colorism, ethics, and abolition require the conviction and clarity Amanda always brings to her forums. Her words and art demand we stay vigilant, aware, and informed for the good of the collective.
The bounty of seeds Amanda has and continues to sow push timely conversations forward and urge us to contribute. Her praxis permeates her daily actions in digital and local communities alike because she believes that love and diligence are integral parts of the lambent future unfurling before us.
She is my sister, and you would be lucky to have a sister like mine. Her gesticulations of love center equity and growth. Her imagination is matched only by her unflappable wit. She is charisma embodied and her warmth reminds me that any of us could be, in an instant, held if needed.
Amanda Harris Williams on Lauren Halsey
Lauren is a true master of praxis. She insists on monuments, excels in detail—her work is grand enough to be understood at a distance, and inviting enough to beg us to come closer and spend needful time. Moreover, the work she does through her community center makes it clear that this is not just a pageant—it is real, it is embedded, embodied, and practiced love, not mere ornamentation.
This photo essay was originally published in Carla issue 26.