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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

at 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
at LADIES’ ROOM
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
at SMART OBJECTS
–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
at NAVEL
–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
at LAXART
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
at MOCA PDC
–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
Reviews
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

Home
at LACMA

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.
Featuring:
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
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
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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

Ma
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
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Mertzbau
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
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
at LACMA
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
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.)
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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:
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
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
at ASHES/ASHES
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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
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
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe
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.)
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Lumbung in
Los Angeles

Leer en Español

Jumana Emil Abboud, My Other Half (2022). Performance with Yasmine Haj, Anna Sherbany, and Mounya Elbakay at documenta fifiteen; Nordstadtpark, Kassel, Germany, June 19, 2022. Image courtesy of the artists and documenta. Photo: Martha Friedel.

This year’s edition of documenta, the city-wide international art exhibition that occurs in Kassel, Germany, every five years, was an expansive and inclusive reimagining of what art, and the world, could be. Predominantly featuring art collectives from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the exhibition implemented new practices and terminologies around collectivity, like the concept of the harvest, which was used to describe reflecting, listening, and recording one’s perspective as an active participant in group discussions and meetings.1 Experiencing documenta fifteen was like traveling through a vast ecosystem of art communities, each made up of diverse creative practices and histories. Throughout the exhibition, visitors could, for instance, prepare and share a meal in an outdoor kitchen by Britto Arts Trust, a Bangladesh-based art collective whose contribution was devoted to food politics. On the same day, they could also watch videos of conversations with asylum seekers in Denmark in a living room environment set up by the Copenhagen-based collective Trampoline House.

Curated by the Jakarta-based art collective ruangrupa, documenta fifteen was centered around the idea of “lumbung,” an Indonesian term for a communal rice barn. The curators invited 14 community-oriented collectives to develop the methods of lumbung, and those groups, in turn, invited others to participate in the exhibition. In the two years leading up to this summer’s opening, lumbung members and artists held regular online “majelises,” or assemblies. The attendees used this time to discuss their ideas for collaborating and sharing resources during the 100 days of the exhibition. 

Organizing such a diversity of constituents during a global pandemic is an accomplishment in and of itself, and, given the total overhaul of documenta’s institutional structure, growing pains were to be expected. Several months before the opening of the exhibition, ruangrupa was accused of being sympathetic to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, (which is widely viewed in Germany as antisemitic2) due largely to the inclusion of the Palestian-collective the Question of Funding.3 These claims intensified days after the opening of the exhibition over the inclusion, and quick removal, of a mural titled People’s Justice (2002) by the Indonesian collective Taring Padi.4 While the German media riled up the controversy,5 ruangrupa pushed back against curatorial expectations of complete autonomy, pointing instead to their roles as stewards of a collaborative process, and moreover, to the shifts in meaning that occur when artists’ practices (and diverse cultural backgrounds) are translated into a European context. In a speech delivered on July 6, Ade Darmawan, founding director of ruangrupa, emphasized the importance of collaboration even when it leads to unexpected consequences, stating that, “The curatorial approach and responsibility in the lumbung lies in this collectivity. We see this as a political endeavor, where collective agency, decision making and governance presents an alternative to forms of authoritarianism.”6 Collectivity can be a messy process, but it is vital to building more equitable systems. 

The lumbung establishes an alternative economy to distribute resources, resist authoritarian powers, and anchor itself in the local values of its members. The inclusion of the lumbung model in documenta fifteen points to the growing international interest in non-hierarchical structures of organizing and resource-sharing. It represents both a global movement and a concentrated set of local efforts to redistribute power within their respective communities in service of artists.

Jatiwangi art Factory, New Rural Agenda Summit (2022). Conference at documenta fifteen, Fridericianum, Kassel, June 21, 2022. Image courtesy of the artists and documenta. Photo: Martha Friedel.

§ 

Here in Los Angeles, vast disparities of wealth are constantly on display: just ride the public transportation system, browse the real estate listings in your neighborhood, or drive by the temporary settlements of the unhoused. Still, it is challenging to understand the specific impact of this extreme economic imbalance on the L.A. artist communities. Life in this city is undoubtedly precarious for artists, particularly for those who lack the financial security of a full-time teaching gig, a viable market for their practice, or generational wealth. If an artist’s viability must depend on an economic system that solely benefits the privileged few to the detriment of the rest, then it is easy to presume that Los Angeles will eventually lose those of us who cannot afford to live here. 

Working against such a dismal fate, several organizations in Los Angeles have emerged in recent years to offer more sustainable models for supporting Angelenos outside of the conventional art market and institutional structures. Their work invokes the lumbung model, as they utilize their core values, education, advocacy, and collectivity to counteract the historical and contemporary inequities that afflict this city while advocating for community care and resources. Groups like the Los Angeles Artist Census (LAAC), Los Angeles Tenants Union (LATU), and the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy (TTPC) collectively organize, share knowledge, and advocate for individuals through volunteer networks, community-driven initiatives, and a shared ethos of reciprocity. Their efforts not only highlight the need for alternative and reparative structures in this city, but also reflect the broader international movements toward more collective models of support.

LAAC influences community thought and public policy by weaponizing bureaucratic language and instrumentalizing conventional methods of data collection. As a grassroots research initiative, the project asserts that the economic and social challenges faced by artists in Los Angeles County are not only quantifiable, but that the data collected about artists can also inform actions that may better their lives. Using a generative model similar to the lumbung majelises, the organization initiated its project by hosting a public gathering at the performance space NAVEL in 2019, inviting artists to gather and illuminate the issues that directly impacted their lives. In the months that followed, several of the artists worked together to determine the questions included in an artist census that would be widely circulated in an attempt to collect data that would help quantify the average working artist’s financial reality. In February 2020, LAAC launched its first census, distributed through social media, newsletters, the census team’s network, and with the help of several local arts organizations. They recently published their findings in a 20-page newspaper; the results from the 2,371 artists who responded are at once staggering and unsurprising.

Among the disappointing data points, the report states that roughly 95% of respondents earn less than the L.A. County living wage ($19.35 per hour) through their art practice, with trans and nonbinary respondents more likely to report lower earnings than cis female and cis male artists; 87% of respondents lack gallery representation; one-third of respondents do not have a studio. For those with studios, the average monthly rent is $623.70, an untenable financial strain when, according to LAAC, of artists who went without a basic necessity to to a lack of funds in 2019, 28% went without housing. While the numbers reveal what some of us may already know from experience, according to LAAC, the data is more than just statistical evidence. It serves as the building block for influencing public policy and increasing sources of funding: organizations like the Center for Cultural Innovation and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs have reached out to LAAC about its work.7 As the organization’s founder, Tatiana Vahan, succinctly put it: “Data is a way to turn the lights on in the room.”8 For arts organizations and local governments that have trouble understanding the specific inequities faced by the city’s artists, LAAC’s work makes inaction inexcusable.

Accountability is a precept of lumbung, and exposing imbalances of power helps improve the overall health of our art ecosystem. In L.A., where housing insecurity is a concern for many artists, groups like the LATU have stepped up to resist the rampant speculation in the real estate market. Focusing on collectivity, education, and relationship building, LATU empowers renters—a group that makes up the majority of residents in this city—to advocate for themselves in the face of eviction or landlord harassment. The organization first emerged as part of the anti-gentrification movement in 2015 to address the diverse housing crises across the city. Since then, LATU has formed over a dozen chapters across Los Angeles County, from Canoga Park to the South Bay, facilitating workshops and hosting bimonthly meetings where neighbors can socialize and learn from one another. All of their communication is fully bilingual in Spanish and English, and they offer free guides for renters engaging in conflict resolution and negotiating cash-for-keys agreements.9 LATU’s model of mutual collaboration and community care resonates so clearly with the spirit of lumbung that they would have easily fit in as one of the collectives that staged educational sessions and information-sharing during the 100 days of documenta fifteen.

While LAAC and LATU respond to systemic inequities directly, TTPC looks to destabilize settler colonialism from the ground up. Inhabiting the first parcel of rematriated10 Indigenous land in the Los Angeles area, TTPC cultivates shared space for members to come together, grow native plants, and practice ceremonies on an acre of Tongva land in Altadena. The property was donated to the organization this year by Sharon Alexander, who, upon learning that the group hoped to obtain ancestral land,11 decided to gift her grandparent’s Altadena home to TTPC rather than profit from its sale.12 After two centuries of European settlement, TTPC’s reclamation of land is the most direct example of decolonization we’ve had in Los Angeles—for TTPC, the act of gathering for ceremony no longer involves a bureaucratic process of obtaining permission. As TTPC coordinator Samantha Morales-Johnson recently put it: “We shouldn’t have to ask anything but the plants for permission to gather.”13 This fall, TTPC will launch its first artist residency, hosting an Indigenous artist and their family in one of the homes on the property, and in the future, they plan to renovate the second home for Indigenous elders to live in.

In truth, the reparative models practiced by groups like LAAC, LATU, and TTPC are the exceptions to the capitalist systems that dominate broader Los Angeles. My experience at documenta fifteen inspired me to examine how local organizations fit into global movements of collectivity—by decentering the individual artist, restructuring the distribution of resources, and inventing new systems of management, the exhibition proposed an overhaul to the model offered by European art institutions. Back in Los Angeles, the communal spirit of the lumbung has generally proven hard to find. Imagine if the assemblies held by the lumbung members were replicated in Los Angeles, the constituents of our communities gathered together to prioritize all artists’ well-being. But the settler colonial mindset weighs heavily upon us, and the California dream is often an individualistic conquest of space. We have a long way to go before those in power—in Los Angeles and elsewhere—take seriously the consequences of their actions. In the meantime, organizations like LAAC, LATU, and TTPC are on the ground, already working toward a more collaborative and equitable future.

Image courtesy of the L.A. Tenants Union / Sindicato del Inquilinxs de L.A.

Image courtesy of the Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy. Photo: Kenneth Lopez.


This essay was originally published in Carla issue 30.

  1. “Harvesters and harvesting practice at documenta fifteen,” documenta, May 25, 2022, https://documenta-fifteen.de/en/news/harvesters-and-harvesting-practice-at-documenta-fifteen/.
  2. Alex Marshall, “Furor Over Documenta Highlights a Widening Chasm in Germany.” The New York Times, August 6, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/06/arts/design/documenta-antisemitism.html.
  3. Alex Greenberger, “Documenta’s Anti-Semitism Controversy, Explained: How a German Art Show Became the Year’s Most Contentious Exhibition,” ARTnews, July 22, 2022, https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/what-is-documenta-15-antisemitism-controversy-1234635001/.
  4. For an in-depth reflection on the controversies of antisemitism at documenta fifteen, see: Eyal Weizman, “In Kassel,” London Review of Books, Vol. 44 No. 15, August 4, 2022, www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v44/n15/eyal-weizman/in-kassel.
  5. “New antisemitism scandal at Germany’s documenta art exhibition.” Deutsche Weller, July 28, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/new-antisemitism-scandal-at-germanys-documenta-art-exhibition/a-62632478.
  6. Speech By Ade Darmawan (ruangrupa) in the Committee on Culture and Media, German Bundestag speech, July 6, 2022, https://documenta-fifteen.de/en/news/speech-by-ade-darmawan-ruangrupa-in-the-committee-on-culture-and-media-german-bundestag-july-6-2022/.
  7. Tatiana Vahan in conversation with the author, August 2022.
  8. Vahan.
  9. Buyouts in which the landlord pays the tenant cash in exchange for voluntary vacation of the property and termination of the lease.
  10. “What is Rematriation?” Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, accessed October 28, 2022, https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/what-is-rematriation/.
  11. Jonah Valdez, “After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County,” Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-10/after-nearly-200-years-the-tongva-community-has-land-in-los-angeles-county.
  12. Jessica P. Ogilvie, “Why a Property Worth Millions was Returned to the Tongva Tribe,” LAist, October 10, 2022, https://laist.com/news/la-history/why-a-property-worth-millions-was-returned-to-tongva-tribe.
  13. Samantha Morales-Johnson in conversation with the author, August 2022.

Julie Weitz is a Los Angeles-based video and performance artist. 

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