Issue 36 May 2024

Defying Narrative
Containment, for
E.L. and Others
–Maya Gurantz
Does it Move You? How to Look at Art,
According to
the Late Robert Irwin
–Janelle Zara
From Earthwork
to Test Plot
Transdisciplinary Approaches
to Ecological Reparation
–Emma Kemp
Interview with
Paulina Lara
–Joseph Daniel Valencia
Works in Progress Featuring: Soo Kim
Photos: Leah Rom
Reviews Teddy Sandoval and
the Butch Gardens
School of Art

at the Vincent Price
Art Museum
–Philip Anderson

Lex Brown
at Bel Ami
–Isabella Miller

Hugh Hayden
at Lisson Gallery
–Alexander Schneider

Diana Yesenia Alvarado
at Jeffrey Deitch
–Eva Recinos

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Cauleen Smith
at 52 Walker
–Shameekia Shantel

(L.A. in São Paulo)
Candice Lin
at Almeida & Dale
–Mateus Nunes
Carla en Español

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
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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
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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.)
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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)

Informal Feminisms

Lee Lozano, No title (1970). Ballpoint on paper, 9 x 11 inches. Image courtesy of The Estate of Lee Lonzano and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Barbora Gerny.

Lee Lozano (1970). Ballpoint on paper, 9 x 11 inches. Image courtesy of The Estate of Lee Lonzano and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Barbora Gerny.

I can’t say how it begins, but I know that I am right in the middle of it. Of what? Something, anything. A conversation, an idea, a sentence, a project, a love story. I think to myself that it’s hard not to be in the middle of it. Isn’t what living a life is? Finding yourself entangled in it? You don’t remember in detail how it all began. How can you? It is intricate. It is all a little messy. Other people are involved. Other voices and stories overlap with yours. You keep opening doors, sharing these stories. Life swirls. You can’t stop it. You know that it’s going somewhere, but can’t tell exactly where, or how long it will take. You just have to let it run its course. But, how do you master the art of letting things run their course when people are scared of what cannot be controlled? How do you convince people that your let-it-run-its-course art project is worth their attention (and money) when it’s not the kind of stuff that could be captured in a single JPEG, and therefore look good on the pages of an art magazine? There’s too much going on, around you, in your life, in your head. You can’t, for the life of it, box it in.

And why would you? Content spills from your pockets, and that should be a good thing. After all, marketing “artistic content” is what cultural institutions compete over today. So one would expect them to take an interest. Ironically, however, the last thing a strained marketer would have the nerves to do is develop content with you. Markets are fast. Caring for content, on the contrary, takes time. A lifetime potentially. It’s a form of affective labor. By listening to someone else’s stories, getting involved with their art, we slowly become entangled in their life, sharing the intensity and burden of it all. It’s how these relations are forged that give art a life. Otherwise, art is like a telephone that rings, with no one on the line. Sound absurd? Still, it’s the new norm, in the arts, as in society at large: the pressure is on to maintain a state of excitation that has everybody’s ears ringing, 24/7, even though no one actually made a call and no one was home to pick up.

Life electricity must flow through the communications grid at all times to keep it up and running. This “juice” is provided—by professionals and amateurs alike—loading the net nonstop, for free, with bit-sized parts of themselves. But this is not content. It’s isolated information: what you had for lunch today or who you dated yesterday, unrelated data, readily processed at the speed of a thumb-scroll. Content, on the contrary, takes shape when experiences become related, interwoven and condensed over longer periods of time. This process develops in exchanges with people whom you trust, yet equally in a medium in which you confide. To let art run its course as life takes its turns. In this sense, what would it mean to find ways of sustaining the relationship to one’s own practice for long enough to permit experiences to accumulate within that practice? And then to metabolize these experiences into content?

In societies of advanced Capitalism today, however, it’s as if we were being tested in a social experiment. How far we can flatten out our metabolism and professionalize life? Is it possible to go past the point where we can ceaselessly feed the world with unrelated information, and thereby stop relating to anything or anyone? By this point, everyone will play his or her part, professionally, yet be permanently out to lunch. If the sense of alienation caused by the sheer absence of relations—and hence meaningful content—registers, it is in the ‘private’ sphere, traditionally reserved for making sense of life, i.e., the place you drive home to, wondering what the hell the day was about. In privacy, the overall sense of un-relatedness thickens into a formless mess of feelings. Toxic, when left to molder.

Already in the 1970s, Italian feminist and drop-out art critic Carla Lonzi had forcefully addressed the way the professionalization of artistic practices had left no room for the cultivation of meaningful relationships. She fought against the mythic notion of the artist as a man who pursues his art in solitude, only enters into social ties (grudgingly) if they promise to be instrumental for his career. By contrast, she understood relationships as existentially transformative, mutually so. Such transformation, however, Lonzi argued, were only possible via a collective endeavor. This is why, among Italian feminists, she initiated a practice she called Autocoscienza (taking consciousness-raising into one’s own hands): Women would meet in groups and, by sharing experiences from their lifes, aid each other in finding ways to articulate a collective consciousness. Lonzi dedicated herself to forging transformative relations with people close to her and published records of these exchanges. In the spirit of Autocoscienza, she wrote Taci, anzi Parla: Diario di una Femminista (Shut up. Or rather, speak: A Feminist’s diary). It is a diary she created of more than 1300 pages, comprised of reflections and conversations, collected from 1972 to ‘76. In the book Lonzi makes no attempt to reconcile conflicts and contradictions, neither does she struggle to appear likeable. She trusts the reader to handle the articulation of her life as a contribution to the mutual effort of creating consciousness differently.

The struggle against socially the imposed divide between “public” and “private” hence coincides with the effort to renegotiate the relation between “art” and “life.” The question, here as it was there, is: how to be in the middle of it, in the middle of the storm? When Lee Lozano’s stormy life leaked into her work, her practice expanded beyond the sanctioned, dominant art world. Her dropout piece (which began in 1970) was the culmination of her practice and the beginning of Lozano’s LifeArt metamorphosis. For many, dropout piece, which saw the artist’s withdrawal from the art world, is Lozano’s farewell to art and ultimately to life. While dropout entailed Lozano’s disappearance from the art world’s radar, she never stopped making art. Eventually Lee Lozano dropped most of the letters in her name and referred to herself simply as “E.” No doubt, the metamorphosis into E came at a high price; yet, its strength and importance lay in Lozano/E’s refusal of form and definition. dropout piece poses a big challenge to the viewer, as it forces us to question how we understand and measure visibility, and how society regards the invisible. Lozano may have denied the “feminist” label—as she denied so many other labels—but still, I cannot help thinking that her commitment to validating experiences of life that were otherwise considered marginal by the dominant culture is in keeping with what feminism is all about.

The point of experimenting with art and life, in this case, is not about turning one’s own life into an artwork, nor art into a lifestyle. Where life and art overlap, practices emerge that challenge the boundaries between what can be said and what can’t. What can be done and what cannot. Such violations of constraints are vital for new forms to emerge. In her Barf Manifesto, a response to Eileen Myles’s essay “Everyday Barf,” writer Dodie Bellamy advocates a form of writing that is “messy, irregular, but you can feel in your guts that it’s going somewhere.”1

Barf is intellectual work carried out outside of pre-established forms. It is driven by content. It emerges from experience: “the Barf is expansive as the Blob, swallowing and re-contextualizing, spreading out and engorging. Its logic is associative, it proceeds by chords rather than single, discreet notes.” Yet, Barf is not the same as stream of consciousness. The point is not to let your thoughts run freely. In her manifesto, Bellamy argues for a writing that, instead of suppressing the self and claiming objectivity, puts the content of a life at the center. Barf is writing in which “the personal intersects content intersects form intersects politics”. Not constrained by existing forms, the only rule, Bellamy suggests, is to put oneself in it, taking the risk of finding yourself in the middle of it. Of what? Of a storm. Out at sea—in the middle of a mess.

To let experiences from life shape one’s work is a way of affirming the entanglement with the mess of life. It means that you let content drive the work. Yet, to do so, in fact, is to oppose the reductive formalism (or formalist reductivism) that has come to shape the canon of US American art history and criticism since the 1970s. This canon teaches artists and writers that an edge of criticality can be gained within a work or text by copying (what has come to be venerated as) the stylistic rigor of classic avant-gardism: Take a position, clarify your strategy, make your point, radicalize!

Along this line of thought, concise form equals political resolve. A man of revolutionary intent doesn’t mess about; he takes a firm stance, states his case, understands the economy of means and hence, in his work, achieves razor-sharp precision and superior elegance by showing formal restraint and boiling things down to their essence. He addresses matters of objective importance (such as the flatness of the canvas, material conditions of production, or power structures of the art world) unflinchingly, with a view unclouded by fleeting affectations and other subjective hicc- or hang-ups. By virtue of spotless consistency, the form of his work commands authority.

In the face of such integrity one may only gasp and coyly exclaim: “Oh Captain, my Captain!” The codes of avant-gardist rigor perfectly match the patriarchal and militaristic protocol for how to divide power among men: 1. Stake a claim on a territory—be it a genre, medium, topic or elbow-room in the art bar—by visibly asserting your presence. 2. Secure the perimeters (find allies, legitimate your claims, get degrees). 3. Hold your position, come what may, for as long as it takes, until people recognize your claim—content only distracts. Focus on the form of your strategy, on how and when you make your move(s). This works for artists and academics alike. But are we not sick of a scenario, where beyond strategies and positions, no one has any content to offer, no love to give, and nothing to lose but their claim to their spot at the bar?

Content may come from life as well as from art. Between art and life there is no secure protocol for translation. Collage, cut-up and assemblage have become a common way of picking up life’s pieces where they fall. Gertrude Stein would have loved Instagram. But the act of splicing together fragments is not a new genre. It’s a necessity, when life (or art) refuses to take cohesive form. This doesn’t mean that works engaging in the mess life makes would have to be any less precise than strategically calculated positions. It’s more a question of how far you allow things to travel into the realm of the cringe-worthy, and when to button up. You pick your outfit with care, particularly on nights when you dare the audience to bear with you as you take them on a tour de force.

Yet, precision in this case is not an end in itself. Rather, it comes into play when the nuances of a relationship to something or someone are being accentuated. For this is content: it is something to relate to, and something that allows others to relate to you, something put on the table—an anecdote, a memory, a fetish, the news. What counts as content worth sharing is not judged in terms of successful moves in a game of chess. It’s rather a question of how deeply meaning gets under your skin, how surprisingly physical your thoughts become when a realization hits you. Your body picks up a strong signal, registers an impact, channels an intensity. You feel a high, or cringe. 

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 4.

  1. Dodie Bellamy, p. 30, Barf Manifesto, chapbook, Ugly Duckling Press, 2008.