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
Launch Party May 18th, 2019
@ The Pit
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Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
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Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
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Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
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(L.A. in N.Y.)
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at Swiss Institute
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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
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Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
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Frieze Los Angeles, ALAC,
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Vanguard Art at LACMA
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Sperm Cult
at LAXART
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Kahlil Joseph
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Ingrid Luche
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Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
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Trenton Doyle Hancock
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(L.A. in N.Y.)
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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
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Launch Party November 18, 2018
at Odd Ark L.A.
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Gertrud Parker
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Robert Yarber
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Nikita Gale
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Lari Pittman
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(L.A. in N.Y.)
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at the Whitney Museum
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Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
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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
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Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
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Fiona Conner
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Show 2
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Deborah Roberts
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Mimi Lauter
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Math Bass
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(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
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Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
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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
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Ashton Cooper
Object Project
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Chris Kraus
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Ben Sanders
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iris yirei hsu
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Harald Szeemann
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Ali Prosch
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Reena Spaulings
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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
Launch Party
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Adrián Villas Rojas
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Nevine Mahmoud
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Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
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Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
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David Hockney
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Edgar Arceneaux
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Barely Living with Art:
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Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
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Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
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Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
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and Photography Fail
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Paul Mpagi Sepuya
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Ravi Jackson
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Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
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Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
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Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
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the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
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The Offerings of EJ Hill
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Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Broken Language
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Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
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Home
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Analia Saban at
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Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
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Interview with
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Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
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Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
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Letter to the Editor
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Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Generous
Structures
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
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at Shulamit Nazarian
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Karl Haendel
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Wolfgang Tillmans
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Ma
at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
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Kenneth Tam
's Basement
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The Female
Cool School
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The Rise
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Art Witch
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Agnes Martin
at LACMA
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Intro by Claressinka Anderson
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Made in L.A. 2016
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Doug Aitken
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Mertzbau
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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
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Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
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Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
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Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
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at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
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Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
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at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
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Char Jansen
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Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room
at LACMA

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.)
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
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at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
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Trisha Donnelly
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Bradford Kessler
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Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
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Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
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at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
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Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
MEAT PHYSICS/
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
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
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at LACMA

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.)
Distribution
Downtown
A+D Museum
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
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ICA LA
JOAN
LACA
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Pasadena/ Glendale/ Valley
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Mid-City
1301 PE
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the Landing
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Mobile
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@gasdotgallery
Elsewhere in CA
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Curatorial Research Bureau @ the YBCA (San Fransisco)
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fused space (San Francisco)
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Libraries/ Collections
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Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Marpha Foundation (Marpha, Nepal)
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Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, John M. Flaxman Library (Chicago, IL)
Scholes Library, NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Skowhegan Archives (New York, NY)
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University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with
Donna Huanca

Donna Huanca & Przemek Pyszcek, MUSCLE MEMORY (installation view) (2015). Image courtesy of the artists and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.

Amidst an alien landscape of white sand and labdanum-scented air, clear plastic crinkles over braided hair caked with clay. Breasts are sheathed beneath armor-like chest molds, and feet track lines through the sand, dragging slowly with trance-like precision. The ambient soundtrack that emanates from behind large swaths of fabric heightens the drama, and locates the scene somewhere moodily futuristic.

On Saturdays at the Marciano Art Foundation, Berlin-based Donna Huanca’s largescale installation, OBSIDIAN LADDER, is overtaken by her army of performers, each costumed and painted head-to-toe by the artist. Huanca costumes her performers with an uncanny mix of natural and synthetic materials— the gentle egg washes and clay pigments she cakes into her model’s hair and uses to ornament their skin contrasts long synthetic braids antiseptically wrapped in clear plastic packaging—creating a fantastical vision. Her models walk amongst and position themselves within or against sculptural works that simultaneously mimic their bodily ornamentation and act as backdrops for their movements. Large paintings hanging on the back wall serve as abstract backdrops to the built environment. Huanca begins her works on canvas with the painted body: she photographs her festooned performers, and uses those images as underpaintings.

Though Huanca’s process of styling her models may echo the fashion and beauty industries (still too often defined by damaging beauty standards and non-inclusive marketing campaigns), the artist insists that a progressive politic underlies the work. While utilizing living people as an art medium is perhaps not a new phenomenon (think tableau vivant), it’s certainly one that introduces a host of logistical concerns—from compensation to bathroom breaks—as well as several conceptual ones. Huanca cultivates relationships with her models, attempting to build a safe autonomous space for their performances to occur. She also donates the proceeds from editioned art objects to local trans and LGBTQ community groups (organizations that she says serve the communities her models belong to).

Though Huanca contends that her work breaks from the tradition of using the female nude to elicit the male gaze, her audience may not always be up to the task. “There’s always some idiot man in every city that asks: how much do they cost?” she told The Guardian in 2016.1

I caught up with Huanca in between international flights and post-show travel, and asked her about her dedicated relationship with her performers, the ephemerality of the figure, and how she sees her work in relation to feminism’s progression and the ever-present male gaze.

Lindsay Preston Zappas: Your work includes intricately painted and costumed figures, but the paintings on your figures ultimately get washed off in the shower.

Donna Huanca: I am interested in the practice of detachment and letting things go. Since absolutely everything is temporary, I find it freeing that the body paintings are ephemeral.

LPZ: Do you pre-plan your body painting in any way (e.g., sketches or drawings), or is applying the body paint an intuitive process?

DH: The process of creating the body paintings is very intuitive for me, responding to and working with the models. I draw much of my inspiration from the natural world, from geological formations and patterns. I find it much more freeing than standing in front of a canvas, which can feel static and permanent. The inherent ephemerality in working with the models and on bodies feels more true and instinctual to me, which is why in my paintings [on canvas] I do a mixture of both— printing images from the body paintings onto the canvas and then layering over top of that painting and scratching [paint] with my hands.

LPZ: In your body paint and costuming, do you have specific moves that you repeat that act as constants?

DH: I think of my work as self-referential— my process involves a lot of layering and experimentation. Because of this, there are definitely certain things that recur between pieces. For example, I use a lot of hair in my work—braided hair that hangs from the sculptures and is also attached to the models. We hold memory and trauma in every strand of our hair— I am interested in this metaphor.

LPZ: I read that you have your performers write about their experience after each performance. What have those texts revealed to you, and how do you take that on board as you are conceptualizing a new piece?

DH: I value my relationships with the models extremely highly, and want to honor the different forms of expression and temporality that communication can take. I think of the texts as an extension of the experience of the performances, which is itself very meditative and self-reflexive. A lot of the models I collaborate with are artists in their own right, and the responses are often moving and are very important to me. It gives me the opportunity to encounter my work through their experience of it.

LPZ: I attended one of your shows in the past, and I saw you whispering to a performer who you ultimately led out of the gallery (maybe she wasn’t feeling well or had to use the restroom?), and I remember thinking about how humane that interaction felt.

DH: All my models have complete agency when performing—they are free to move when they choose and leave the stage as they feel. For my work, what is absolutely crucial is the creation of a space that is safe for the models to have a meditative, transcendent experience.

Donna Huanca, OBSIDIAN LADDER (installation view) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Joshua White.

LPZ: How does that safety translate to live performance, where the audience is involved in looking?

DH: I’m trying to distort and refract the gaze. Not just in the live performances, but for me what is crucial to this destabilization of the male gaze is in the relationship of care and trust that I cultivate with the models. I give them very little instruction, and they are completely agential in creating their own experiences.

LPZ: Are you imagining a futuristic landscape?

DH: [I think a lot] about art history, but I actually think that the future (and the near future) is the important horizon to keep in our vision. In my work, I try to project a future, to experiment with visions of what a feminized future would look like, what it would value. For me, that looks like care, trust, community, the natural world, and the interconnectedness and dependence of bodies with the natural world.

LPZ: In your vision of a feminized future, are men precluded? Or do you envision a shift in power dynamics towards women?

DH: I’m not interested in exclusion. What I’m more interested in is new constellations of being and of relating to each other that supplant our current understandings of the masculine and the feminine. The feminine is powerful. I am trying to demonstrate that power as it already exists.

LPZ: How do you see your work fitting within the lineage of feminist art?

DH: The canon of feminist work has often excluded certain identities and bodies. I see myself as elongating (and certainly being indebted to) but also breaking with that history.

LPZ: You mentioned the gaze earlier. There are aspects of your work that mimic artists that had questionable body politics (the body prints of Yves Klein, performances of Vanessa Beecroft).

DH: My work has nothing to do with these mentioned artists.

LPZ: Your work diverges conceptually, but for instance, your show involves body prints (which Klein did with nude female models) and uses a particular Yves Klein blue.

DH: You could make that aesthetic connection, but that would be up to you  to do the intellectual work of connecting my performances with the work of Yves Klein and making some sort of explanation or meaning from that. You could also compare my work to Ana Mendieta’s performances or to Carolee Schneemann’s films, or GWAR, or any other artist who uses the color blue. But for me, all I can say is that I have never made work consciously thinking about or reacting to Yves Klein.

LPZ: Is fashion a source of inspiration for you, or something that you are pushing up against?

DH: Self-decoration and aesthetic is a primal urge that we all have for communicating and signaling and community building, and I am interested in that aspect of “fashion.” But the fashion world includes violences that I am repelled by: the fetishization of the body, the massive waste that comes with the incredibly fast, trend-based consumerism.

LPZ: Can you discuss how your work avoids fetishization of the body?

DH: Sure. I think first of all, I want to make clear that fetishization is often conflated with nakedness, and this is reductive and not true. Fetishization in fashion advertisements and other such media is the cutting up of bodies and evacuation of subjectivity or agency from those bodies, which is necessary to feed the erotics of the male gaze. My work is in direct conflict with this; it is all about the agency of the models, and the whole performance is set up to accommodate not only their safety but also to facilitate a meditative experience for them. The fashion industry is also so [dependent on] social media which I feel my work provides an antidote for. I hope that people enter my exhibitions and feel a sense of presence and groundedness that is so often stolen away by our phones.

LPZ: What do you mean by that? How is your work providing an antidote to social media?

DH: By allowing the audience to have presence in the space and to enter a space where time is elongated.

LPZ: As tech becomes more integrated into our lives, do you think it is something we need to resist or rethink our relationship to?

DH: We have to surrender to it.

LPZ: Performers inhabit the space at the Marciano just once a week on Saturdays. If viewers see the work without the performers, are they having an incomplete experience?

DH: I’m interested in the practice of femme mark making, the echoes and traces of the bodies in the space when they aren’t present, how the space holds and retains that energy. When the models are not present, you can still trace their bodies through their footprints left in the sand and the rubbings that they’ve left on the wall from their bodies. All the works in the exhibition are interconnected and rely on one another; the paintings would never exist without the performances, the sculptures emerge from the paintings, etcetera.

Lindsay Preston Zappas is the founder and editor-in-chief of Carla.

Donna Huanca, born in Chicago in 1980, studied painting at the St.delschule in Frankfurt am Main, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and the University of Houston in Texas. She has previously had museum exhibitions at the Zabludowicz Collection in London (2016) and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai (2018). Huanca lives and works in Berlin.

Donna Huanca & Przemek Pyszcek, MUSCLE MEMORY (installation view) (2015). Image courtesy of the artist and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.

Donna Huanca, OBSIDIAN LADDER (installation view) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Joshua White.

Donna Huanca, OBSIDIAN LADDER (installation view) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Joshua White.

Donna Huanca, LENGUA LLORONA (detail) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Elsa Kostic.

Donna Huanca, OBSIDIAN LADDER (installation view) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and Peres Projects, Berlin. Photo: Joshua White.


This interview was originally published in Carla issue 17.

  1. Hettie Judah, “Ayahuasca and anal beads: the hallucinogenic art of Donna Huanca,” The Guardian, Sept. 28, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/28/ayahuasca-and-anal-beadsthe-hallucinogenic-art- of-donna-huanca.