Issue 36 May 2024

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.)
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
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
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)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with Alison O’Daniel

Leer en Español

Photo: Caitlyn Dennis.

At the core of Alison O’Daniel’s film The Tuba Thieves is a mysterious series of tuba thefts that plagued high schools across Southern California between 2011 and 2013. O’Daniel first heard about the robberies on the radio while driving around Los Angeles. The news story inspired what would become her first feature film, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. An apt metaphor for loss and disempowerment, the story of the tuba thefts allowed O’Daniel (who is d/Deaf1) to explore individual and subjective relationships to sound. Rather than beginning by writing a script, O’Daniel centered sound, inviting artists Christine Sun Kim, Ethan Frederick Greene, and Steve Roden to compose musical scores from a variety of visual and textual prompts.

What followed was an 11-year project that O’Daniel refers to as a “game of telephone,” wherein the world of the film expanded beyond the thefts as each emerging anecdote prompted a successive scene. Due to O’Daniel’s winding explorations along the way, The Tuba Thieves is a wholly unique and unexpected film: part documentary, part ode to the city of Los Angeles, part imagined history. The film is firmly planted in the L.A. soundscape in both overt and subtle ways: We observe city traffic, hands caressing chain-link fences, a helicopter hovering over a crackling wildfire. Vignettes about fictional characters navigating L.A. through the texture of sound are interspersed with scenes based on the responses to O’Daniel’s prompts and real elements from the story of the instrument thefts. O’Daniel subverts the traditional narrative structure of a feature film by layering these stories, building suspense and momentum through sound.

Alongside subtle and brilliant editing, O’Daniel employs succinct and vivid open captions to set tone and propel the action. In one poignant scene, the camera shakily makes its way through the crowd in a concert venue. A figure onstage is blurred. The phrase “[A MORE VULNERABLE MELODY]” appears onscreen as audience members turn around and toward the camera to stare. Finally, we see musician Patrick Shiroishi alone onstage, blowing into the saxophone. The melody that plays is indeed yearning and plaintive.

I left a screening of The Tuba Thieves in April with a profound understanding of the film as a truly physical, sensory experience. I had already seen select scenes over the years; O’Daniel and I first worked together in 2018 on an exhibition for Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), where a single-channel installation was played in one room while the accompanying score was played in an adjacent one. O’Daniel probes the possibilities of the film medium, stretching the audience to consider the textures of sound and the materiality of storytelling. She relishes the challenge of asking what a film can be and how her different audiences might perceive it. She doesn’t demure from conversations on accessibility, insisting on the importance of representation in film and championing ubiquitous captioning.

I recently met with O’Daniel to learn about how The Tuba Thieves had grown and evolved since the LAND exhibition. We discussed breaking film rules, the influence of Los Angeles on her work, and her approach to “listening untethered to the ears.”

Irina Gusin: I’ve heard you talk about how you were driving in your car and listening to news stories on the radio. You were able to track different tuba thefts at different high schools over an extended period. The fact that you could track this story in your car as it unfolded over several years is such an L.A. story. The Tuba Thieves literally started with you listening.

Alison O’Daniel: The radio thing is so specific and I like that you pick it up, because whenever I talk about that, in some ways, it’s a nod to Angelenos. There is such a specificity to Angelenos’ relationship to being in the car, and what you listen to in the car. I was thinking about the sounds of L.A., and included in [that] for me are these voices that are guiding all these people to work or whatever they’re doing. I have this total dream—I just want to be able to hear [KPCC host] Larry Mantle talking about The Tuba Thieves and his feigned surprise and delight at himself being in the film.

IG: That would also be my dream. I love how you have described The Tuba Thieves as a listening project. Can you explain what that means to you?

AO: I knew I wanted to make a film, [but] I didn’t know what it was going to be…. I had this desire after working with [Ethan Frederick Greene, the composer of my first film, Night Sky (2011)] to see if it would be possible to flip the script and have a composer be in the role of a director, and a director be in the role of a composer. A composer is traditionally watching all the footage and then conjuring up sound that’s supposed to guide the audience emotionally through the work. [But] I have a lot of skepticism about the emotional guiding that happens in so many movies.

I had this amazing realization when Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) came out. I watched that movie in a theater, and I was crying, and I hated the movie. I was sitting there so conscious of this split within me—of being able to emote with something that I didn’t care or want to care about. I was like, my god, music is so manipulative and so powerful, and I had this awe about what was happening in my body, and how much I didn’t want it to be happening—feeling like the composer was totally in control of me. That felt remarkable. So, a part of me was thinking: How can you make a film that is a participant in acknowledging that role of manipulation, and try and rewrite the script? Be on the journey of the film with the audience. I wanted the audience to have listening agency. I figured that if I could have agency in the process of making the film, then that would maybe transfer.

IG: I think you’re right. When you’re watching something like a Hollywood film, the music gives you these particular cues that you think are intuitive, that you don’t necessarily notice right away. But watching The Tuba Thieves in terms of the audio component—it’s not like somebody in the background, sending out covert signals. It actually feels like another person in the room.

AO: There [are] two interesting things about this. In the section with Patrick [Shiroishi] playing his music, it already existed. He didn’t make that for the film. It’s really emotional music: It’s about his grandparents having been interned in [Japanese internment camps] outside of L.A. I was trying to have him describe his music to me so that I could use that in the captions. Patrick kept using the word “vulnerable,” [but] I never wanted to tell the audience through captioning, an equivalent of what I think happens in Bridget Jones’s Diary, where it’s slamming you over the head with “vulnerable.” Patrick’s music doesn’t do that at all. You can feel Patrick’s sorrow in [this moment in the film]. So, I was like, I’m going to use his words. That feels right to me. This is how I feel listening has written the project. And then the other thing is that the music is not dictating. Half my audience is d/Deaf, so I’m not going to do something in the music that is leaving out half of the audience; it needs to be reflected in some other part of the film.

IG: You’ve created a portion of your website that encourages people to use open captions in their films. Could you talk about the journey you’ve been on with captioning this film? Can captioning be an art form?

AO: Something that has been put out there in the last few years is this idea of [creative captioning]. I really think it is the cart before the horse. We have problems where it’s not [a lack of] captions, but captions being shitty. I think I’m good at describing sound because I’ve studied it so intimately. It’s not [that] I’m good at it because I’m an artist. I’m good at it because I’ve been forced to think about sound my whole life. It’s important to me to make that distinction, because what I absolutely don’t want is to read hearing subjectivity.

Everything we’ve experienced is lazy captioning, like a music symbol, or saying “exciting music.” That is not a helpful caption. That’s just an annoying caption. But then to do something where it’s artistic or creative, and it gets far away from the thing you’re hearing and starts to become somebody’s poetic license…I find that confusing too. And maybe this will be a non-conversation at some point, but we haven’t even gotten to the point yet where you can trust captioning. I’m actually over here a little bit hesitant about this idea of artistic creative captioning. I don’t totally trust that yet. I just want people to do a really good job of captioning. Even if it’s an afterthought, and you’re adding it at the end, just do a good job, full stop. Full stop.

IG: My father was a professional cellist. When I was growing up, he was always trying to communicate something to me about how you feel when you hear sound or music. And he’d use images—like, this string note is a waterfall. Or, this base note is like a mountain.

AO: I love the base note as a mountain, that makes deep sense to me. When I started this film—I think this is how I just make work in general—I pose a question and I’m not that worried about whether I solve it. One of the early questions [was] about it being a listening project and what that means, but specifically it being a listening project untethered from the ears. It was the thing I proposed at the beginning of making this project, and it’s the thing that has carried me all the way through. It’s been an inquiry the whole time. I learned something so valuable in cultivating curiosity and cultivating interest, and I think that has sort of become my personal, artistic goal: not just being interested, but the act of cultivating that interest, the act of cultivating listening. The fact that I could, as a d/Deaf person, on some level cultivate listening—cultivate what that means beyond something biological, or beyond something medical.

IG: Do you mean conceptual?

AO: Sometimes, but I mean, it also feels really physical. There’s the medical, the biological, and the social model of d/Deafness or disability. I think all three of those are part of this conversation. But the artist in me is like, what [else], beyond those? And that is where the question lies. What [is] beyond these limitations? I still love the idea of breaking the sound barrier. Like, even my own sound barriers, just breaking them. And film barriers, and everything. I just feel very little patience for rules, confines, or constraints.

IG: Do you feel that the multifaceted aspect of your art practice creates the confidence of allowing a question to open up another question, and so forth? Do you think it allows you to sit in this way of making a film rather than being like, this is exactly what it is going to be?

AO: Yeah. Actually, I’ve thought a lot about my undergrad degree. It was in Fibers and Material Studies. I went into that department because people were doing performances and videos—it was kind of the weird department where anything could go. But, what I loved from my education was the Material Studies part, because what that meant was, if you were going to silkscreen with peanut butter, [you had] responsibility towards knowing and being able to talk about peanut butter and its social and historical [implications]. That’s part of the work. That’s how I feel about film. Part of why I like interrogating these rules is because it’s the material of the film. It’s the material of cinematic language. Like, why and how does film inherently carry with it a sort of misogyny? It’s because it’s a medium that’s constantly being formed by not enough women and not enough people who don’t fit into that clear binary. The material of cinema and its history have been formed by very particular whims and desires.

IG: That’s interesting, because I walked out of The Tuba Thieves processing how I was feeling, rather than the different sounds that I heard, or the different things that I experienced visually.

AO: My hope is to cultivate a sensitivity. I think that’s what I mean by “listening untethered from the ears.” I always had two goals in making the film. One was to experiment [with] an experience where people are somewhat frustrated—where people don’t know how things are coming together—to make people curious. I [wanted] to put people in a position where they’re compensating, which is the thing you’re tested for in hearing tests. My life is catching parts of things and having to quickly fill in all these gaps. And sometimes I’m right—most of the time I’m right—but sometimes I’m not, and it’s funny, or bad. I wanted that to be the core structure of the film, that “figuring out” was welcome. The other goal was to make [a] film that was sonically just all over the place, really loud in parts or really quiet in parts, and took you on this multi-aural experience, but that you would walk out and feel quiet.

IG: I want to go back to this idea of sitting in a place where things aren’t necessarily fully resolved. Could you talk about embracing complexity?

AO: Part of it comes from just seeing the treatment of stories of d/Deafness. In my experience, [these stories] have just been a little too basic. To try and fit the complexity of these experiences into some sort of more theatrical narrative…it’s not that simple.

L.A. is such a phenomenally interesting city because you’re just constantly in this sedimented experience of sound. I love that I cannot tell the difference between the sound of traffic and the sound of waves. Traffic sounds are actually soothing in L.A.: Nobody uses their horn in L.A., so it has this passivity. Everybody is resigned to traffic in this city. I think that resignation comes through aurally as a kind of soothing sound. And how fucked up is that—something that’s such a contribution to our lack of well-being is actually soothing? Or, if I’m driving and a siren goes by, I can’t tell what direction it’s coming from, so it’s usually a really scary moment. But if I’m sitting with people and a siren goes by, and everybody is in so much pain, I’m not in pain. I find it super curious. It’s a fascinating moment to watch a norm that I’m not experiencing and recognize this almost funny poetic justice. I get to be hyper-observational in those moments. There’s nothing for me about sound that is uniform to other people’s experience. Something that people find soothing or painful, [for me,] it just is what it is. The two things can exist together. Birds singing and a siren going by, to me, can become accompaniment. Or the ocean and traffic can accompany one another, where they become soundscapes.

Alison O’Daniel is a d/Deaf visual artist and filmmaker who builds a visual, aural, and haptic vocabulary that reveals (or proposes) a politics of sound that exceeds the auditory. O’Daniel’s film The Tuba Thievespremiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. O’Daniel is a 2022 Disability Futures Fellow and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow in Film/Video. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Associate Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

This interview was originally published in Carla issue 33.

Alison O’Daniel, The Tuba Thieves (film still) (2023). Film, 92 minutes. Cinematography: Derek Howard. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alison O’Daniel, The Tuba Thieves (film still) (2023). Film, 92 minutes. Cinematography: Derek Howard. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alison O’Daniel, The Tuba Thieves (film still) (2023). Film, 92 minutes. Cinematography: Judy Phu. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alison O’Daniel, The Tuba Thieves (film still) (2023). Film, 92 minutes. Cinematography: Derek Howard. Image courtesy of the artist.

  1. According to the National Association of the Deaf, the lowercase “deaf” indicates “the audiological condition of not hearing,” while the capitalized “Deaf” refers to a shared language (ASL) and cultural experience. Throughout this interview, we have used “d/Deaf,” as modeled by O’Daniel, to encompass the diversity of d/Deaf experiences. See: “Community and Culture – Frequently Asked Questions,” National Association of the Deaf, accessed June 30, 2023,

Irina Gusin is an independent curator, writer, and exhibitions producer living and working in Los Angeles, California.

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