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 Genevieve Gaignard

Leer en Español

Genevieve Gaignard, Off With Their Heads: Sweet Magnolia (2022). Chromogenic print, 40 × 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

When singer Billie Holiday debuted “Strange Fruit” at Café Society in Greenwich Village in 1939, the song quickly became an urgent clarion call that would bring the world’s attention to Jim Crow-era lynchings. Since then, it has become one of the most powerful and prolific protest songs of the 20th century. 

The nation continues to grapple with the dual terrors of police brutality and wanton gun violence, which have been recast as newer, more insidious forms of lynching (the number of Black Americans killed by police has actually increased in the two years following the murder of George Floyd in 20201). Artist Genevieve Gaignard examined the legacy of racial violence and its current reverberations in her recent exhibition Strange Fruit at Vielmetter Los Angeles, using a version of Holiday’s iconic song as the show’s haunting heartbeat. The beautifully macabre rendition, created and performed for the show by Samantha Farrell and The Big Red Band,2 echoed throughout the gallery from a vintage jukebox.

Gaignard is a photographer and mixed-media artist who combines self-portraiture with immersive sculptural installations consisting of found materials like photographs, carefully chosen books, and porcelain bric-a-brac that bring the interior lives of her subjects into full view. In Strange Fruit, the artist included familiar elements: twin Victorian inspired installations took the shape of large, wall-sized cameos; a family room parlor installation with a wall of framed family photographs and a pair of tiered dumbwaiter tables were each topped with a figural porcelain lamp. Contemporary elements like text-based neon works hung among the vintage motifs, bringing history firmly into the present. 

While processing the events of 2020, Gaignard created a new series of work for Strange Fruit that specifically correlates police brutality with lynchings. Yet, she deliberately avoided visual depictions of Black trauma, opting instead to turn the perpetrators of racial violence into targets. She lined one corridor of the gallery with a series of columns, each hosting a dismembered Royal Doulton-style porcelain head with a satin ribbon tied around the neck. Placed on red cushions, the heads were positioned alongside a series of photographic self-portraits. In them, Gaignard poses lithely in a weathered, plantation-style mansion, wearing antebellum-esque gowns as the spoils of slavery surround her. Here, Gaignard subverts notions of entitlement and privilege by removing the veil of security that surrounds white women, instead placing white fragility on a pedestal that symbolically evokes a head on a spike. As the artist turns racism on its head, she asks white viewers to imagine themselves as the victim. In May, I spoke with Gaignard about Strange Fruit, its origins, and the contemporary themes that pulse through her work.

Colony Little: What were the issues and concepts that were percolating in your mind as you put this show together? 

Genevieve Gaignard: It was really a direct response to what was unfolding on our TV screens during the past two years, between Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. I was in Massachusetts [for a residency at MCLA] at the time [of Floyd’s murder], and I was processing what was unfolding as a lot of us were and still are. These are all modern-day lynchings. To be honest, there was a lot of work in this show and it’s such a heavy topic. I really feel like there’s a continuation to the project that will start to be created. 

Genevieve Gaignard, The American Dream is A Pyramid Scheme (2022). 81 custom figurines on tiers, doily, and vintage wallpaper on plinth, 74 × 24 × 24 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane.

CL: Conceptually, where did you start that process? 

GG: Once I knew I wanted to tackle this idea of modern-day lynchings, I still [wanted to use] materials and imagery from the past, so I wasn’t going to shift away from that. I did want to expand on my fabrication and push what I’ve used in the past in hopes of evolving the materials.

You’re familiar with the figurines, where I used the head of the mammy figurine and the body of the Royal Doulton figurine [to] create these new figurines, which I’ve displayed in the show in[side] the grandfather clock and on some of the shelf pieces. But in my studio, I ha[d] these headless mammies and the Royal Doulton heads. I was processing [and asking] how can I take the theme of “Strange Fruit,” of lynchings—which are grotesque, hurtful, hateful acts—and visually create something that would put oneself in the position of seeing what that would be like specifically for white folks?

The way that ended up being presented was [by] having those heads be the replacement for the act of the lynchings.

CL: The fact that they were resting on red pillows and the ribbons that you had around their necks to evoke ropes… 

GG: These are all subtle things that I was hoping that the viewer would catch on to. The final result is this piece that speaks to lynching, but at the same time speaks to the fragility of whiteness and how we have to tiptoe around these things that were just so natural to partake in when they were happening. But no one wants to own that. In the past, it was celebrated; it was a spectacle.

CL: There is an interplay with your portraits that works really well with the installations. Can you tell me about the personas you inhabited when you took those portraits?

GG: I know that part of my story is whiteness. So for these photographs, I was willing to put myself in the position of this character that was written into history as this precious flower. The white woman is put on a pedestal, and I continue to put her on a pedestal, but in a darker way, with the sculpture. It’s owning both parts of my story. [Born to a white mother and Black father, Gaignard has often explored the duality of her identity in her work.]

In most of my work, I’m trying to celebrate and elevate Black stories and how I fit into th[em], but for this, I felt like I needed to shift my approach a little bit and put myself as “the victim,” or the precursor to ending up on the pedestal. You see that all of the characters in the photographs are wearing the ribbon around their necks, and you see that again in the sculptures.

CL: Another familiar aspect of your practice is the hand mirror wall, which we have seen in previous exhibitions. Can you tell me about the way the mirror walls play into the experience of your shows?

GG: I don’t want white viewers to feel like I’m pointing the finger at them, but I also am: “Did you see this? Can you look at this? Did you know that this is part of your story? Start to unpack that history of hatred.”

I think a lot of us, when we walk into an art space, are thinking, “what was the artist thinking about?” or “how is this part of their story?” And for me, the mirror stops the viewer in their tracks. They’re confronted with themselves, and they have to know it’s about where they’re showing up and how they translate what they are seeing in front of them.

CL: Let’s talk about the iconography of the mammies and the fruit crates that appear in the show. 

GG: All of these ideas started flowing through me [in thinking about how the] themes of “Strange Fruit” could be presented as it pertains to modern-day lynchings. The way the show was set up, you’re hit with those crates, you see some of the photographs, you see the mirrors, then you turn to see this hall of heads. That’s very loaded in itself. That could have been the show. 

I wanted to set up a space to address the people that these acts have actually happened to—the lives that have been lost and the families that have suffered from those losses. How do I elevate us instead of showing imagery of the breakdown? Creating the pyramid with the mammies, I didn’t know how that would be perceived. I just knew that I wanted to see them in abundance. I had a sense of what it might feel like to see a lot of those figurines. I feel that there [were] several reads that could be taken on that as well. Once I saw the figure without the head and the stance that she’s in—the hands on the hips, this power pose—I started to feel this kind of army-like presence, especially when I saw the figurines in this large number. And then there was a collage that was made in conversation with those called And Still We Bloom (all works 2022). All of this underlying stuff that has happened to us—that continues to happen—there’s still so much that we give and create. We just show up. Black folks are amazing, and through all of that, we are still shining and beautiful.

CL: That’s a perfect segue to the Family Tree wall with all of the photos. I love your vignettes; they make me feel like I’m in a family member’s home. That piece was powerful because you saw pictures of multiple generations of Black folks thriving and happy—it’s such a beautiful counterpoint.

GG: So often the imagery of Black families is not presented in a positive way, so any time I have an opportunity to create a space that celebrates Black families and reflects a positive image like that to white audiences, I am all for it. As a white person viewing the work, you might feel some type of way about how you experience that hallway of heads, seeing a representation of whiteness being the victim of said lynchings… but the reality is that this didn’t happen to you, you did it to us. The Family Tree installation is like a shrine or altar to the real victims of these hateful crimes. 

CL: Music has played a role in your previous installations, but the jukebox is a new direction. How did that piece come about? 

GG: The jukebox has been hanging out with me for a while. In my thrifting for other installations, I came across that jukebox. I have a friend from back home who has a beautiful voice and a growing singing career. I just love looping people that have been in my life journey, [who have] ties to home and my upbringing. Samantha Farrell graciously agreed to do a rendition of this iconic song that most people wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. 

For this show, I collaborated with a lot of people to make it come to life, but specifically with Samantha, I’m a fan of her music and I knew what her voice could do already, so I knew she could handle it. She has this vibrato in her voice that adds this haunting quality to her rendition. She reached out to a few musicians that she’s worked with. [The song] becomes complex and layered in itself, because most people think it’s the original lyrics, but I asked Samantha to sing “white bodies swinging in the southern breeze” as opposed to “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze.” You have to catch it at the right time; you really have to be clued into it, or you miss it. 

For me, when it felt like everything was lined up perfectly, the music was at the right level, no one else was really in the space… Your eyes start to well up, the chills start to come on your arms… you feel it. I know that this has really happened to people. There are victims of this story, and it’s not the figures on the pedestals.

Samantha’s voice gives such a mood, similarly to Billie Holiday. It was interesting to give this group of artists the space to create something uniquely their own.

CL: Looking ahead, is this theme of lynching and legally sanctioned violence something you want to continue to explore?

GG: There’s one piece specifically that I was trying to finish but I quickly realized I wouldn’t have been able to give it the justice and care that it needed… There are specific people’s stories I wish to acknowledge—for example, the story of Michael Donald. In my research, I learned he was the last documented [victim of] lynching by KKK members in 1981, the year I was born, and he was only 19 years old. That’s really not that long ago. The more research I do, it’s clear there is an ongoing list of stories that I can expand on in my work as I continue to interrogate this part of our American history.

CL: Your work contends with events of the past while addressing a cultural imperative to speak to present challenges. Can you talk about how you achieve this balance within your practice?

GG: My practice is driven by my goal to create environments and experiences that awaken critical thinking and offer a shift in perspective. The balance between addressing history and present issues comes eas[ily] because our current issues as a culture are not so far removed from the past. So long as history repeats itself, my work will strike that balance.

Genevieve Gaignard (b. 1981) is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses self-portraiture, collage, sculpture, and installation to elicit dialogue around the intricacies of race, beauty, and cultural identity. Since 2019, Gaignard has debuted six solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows. Her most recent solo exhibition, Strange Fruit, with Vielmetter Los Angeles, marks her most ambitious body of work in scale and subject matter. Gaignard splits her time between her hometown of Orange, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles.

This interview was originally published in Carla issue 29.

Genevieve Gaignard, Strange Fruit (installation view) (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Genevieve Gaignard, The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree (Pink Lady) (detail) (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Genevieve Gaignard, Family Tree (2022). Mixed media and vintage wallpaper, 120 × 114 × 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane.

  1.  Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins, and Steven Rich, “Fatal Force: 1,055 people have been shot and killed by police in the last year,” The Washington Post, updated July 15, 2022,
  2. This version of “Strange Fruit” was produced and arranged by Samantha Farrell, Jesse Ciarmataro (a.k.a. Qwill), and Christopher DeSanty. It was performed by
    Samantha Farrell (vocals), Jesse Ciarmataro (acoustic guitar, upright bass, sound design), Brian Cogger (trumpet), and Keith Tutt II (cello).

Colony Little is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a 2021 recipient of the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and a member of the 2021–22 cohort for the MHz Curationist Critics of Color residency. In addition to Carla, her work has appeared in Art News, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, ARTS.BLACK, Hyperallergic, Walter Magazine, and W Magazine. 

More by Colony Little