LOVE IN A CEMETERY PRESENTED BY OTIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
AND 18TH STREET ARTS CENTER
Young Artists Explore the Future of L.A. Culture with Activist Artist Andrea Bowers
Multi-Community Visual Arts Project Opens to the Public January 23
Otis Public Practice Studio, in partnership with the 18th Street Arts Center, presents Love in a Cemetery, an unprecedented visual arts learning laboratory led by L.A.-based visual artist Andrea Bowers and curator Robert Sain. Young artists from Otis College of Art and Design and community organizations throughout Los Angeles are participating in an exploration of aesthetics, pedagogy, and the cultural politics of the city’s arts organizations. The project continues through March 2010 with open classrooms led by Sally Tallant from the Serpentine Gallery in London, artist Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses and artist Martha Rosler, and representatives of L.A. cultural organizations. Guest artist Olga Koumoundouros will create a sculptural installation for the exhibition.
Allan Kaprow wrote, “Life in a museum is like making love in a cemetery,” metaphorically equating a museum with the lifelessness of a cemetery. “The same could be said for classrooms,” says Bowers who is also an Otis Public Practice faculty member. The Love in a Cemetery project features a unique take on art as examination, as investigation into the future of cultural organizations, including art schools and community-based activist groups in the same learning circle as the high-profile museums of Los Angeles. Sain, founding director of the innovative LACMALab, considers the opportunity and obligation for arts organizations to be socially responsible in an age of diminished resources and uncertainty. With this in mind, Otis students are creating projects involving the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, Surfrider Foundation, Pico Youth and Family Center, My Friends’ Place, Homies Unidos, Berda Paradise Thrift Store, and Norco Rehabilitation/Medium Security Correctional Facility.
The Otis MFA Public Practice program, located at the 18th Street Art Center, offers young artists a rigorous study of theory and practice in the context of this thriving Los Angeles cultural center. The highlight is a yearly artist-led project, such as this one by Bowers, Sain, and arts administrator Pauline Kanako Kamiyama. Young artists entering the Public Practice program have a unique opportunity to engage immediately in an artist-driven collaborative project. In the past two years Otis students worked in New Orleans with community activists including Houston-based artist Rick Lowe and Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Manager Jessica Cusick, and in the small rural town of Laton in the Central Valley with Otis Public Practice Founding Chair Suzanne Lacy. “You’re an artist from the time you enter this program,” says Lacy, “and our location at the 18th Street Arts Center emphasizes our commitment to being out there in L.A. doing community work. Projects such as this one demonstrate the reciprocal pedagogy at the heart of public practice, where everyone is a teacher, and everyone a learner.”
By transforming its exhibition space into a laboratory and classroom where all participants engage in visual production and public programming, 18th Street Arts Center’s main gallery becomes a space for civic engagement, experimentation, presentation and discourse. In keeping with their theme for 2010, Status Report: The Creative Economy, Artistic Director Clayton Campbell says, “The economy, selected as a theme prior to the worldwide banking contraction, is now even more relevant as artists like Andrea Bowers proactively develop new strategies to address the dislocation of resources and entitlement by responding to a market system that privileges some while discarding others.”
Love in a Cemetery opens to the public with a reception at 7pm (until 10pm) on Saturday, January 23rd at the 18th Street Arts Center, located at 1639 18th Street in Santa Monica. The exhibition continues through March 26th. Young artists collaborating on this project include Jamie Crooke, Rachael Filsinger, Gabrielle Levine, Rodrigo Marti, Felicia Montes, David Russell, Ella Tetrault, Carmen Uriarte. Their project reports can be viewed at www.otis.edu/loveinacemetery.
Additional information available at www.18thstreet.org and also at http://www.otis.edu/calendar or by calling 310 846-2610.