“Made in L.A. 2020: a version”
              Travis Diehl
              The posters advertising “Made in L.A. 2020: a version” show a painting of a tear-filled eye. It belongs to President Obama, a detail from Political Tears Obama by Fulton Leroy Washington, aka Mr. Wash. The work dates from 2008, suggesting that while the rises of Trump and the virus have come to shape how we receive everything, including this abbreviated biennial, causes for anguish predate both. In a series of works on view at the Hammer, Washington’s bright-burning surrealism portrays not only the “political tears” of politicians and celebrities from John McCain to Michael Jackson, but also those of his fellow inmates (the artist spent two decades behind bars after being wrongfully convicted on three drug-related charges), drawing the viewer to reflect on the continuing toll of decades of carceral capitalism in the US. This biennial, announced in January, installed in June, and previewed by the press in November, still has no public opening date. Several live, performance-based projects, notably those by Harmony Holiday and Ligia Lewis, have taken provisional shapes. As conceived by the curators, Lauren Mackler and Myriam Ben Salah, along with the Hammer’s Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, the show runs recto-verso at two museums—the Hammer and the Huntington. …
              Made in L.A. 2018
              Jonathan Griffin
              Not so much a city as an unevenly populated, multi-centered megalopolis, and not so much a year as a point in an escalating concatenation of national and global crises, there might seem to be no possible way to get “Made in L.A. 2018” right. Add to that the divisions within LA’s art community that mirror many of the historically entrenched divisions within the city itself—between east and west, north and south, white and non-white, gentrified and gentrifying, young and no longer young, left and far left. If artists, as “Made in L.A. 2018” curators Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale write, are “some of our most active citizens,” then biennial curators might be something akin to well-intentioned politicians, expected to represent a plurality of impassioned positions while trying also to retain sight of their own. Against these odds, Ellegood and Christovale have succeeded in organizing an exhibition that is hard to fault, in large part because of their scrupulous avoidance of curatorial overreach. While Hamza Walker and Aram Moshayedi’s “Made in L.A. 2016” (pretentiously subtitled by the four-word poem “a, the, though, only,” and including multidisciplinary contributions both inside and outside the museum) was clearly intended to stretch the possibilities of its …
              “a, the, though, only,” Made in L.A. 2016
              Andrew Berardini
              I’ve lost all my pride I’ve been to paradise And out the other side. With no one to guide me, Torn apart by a fiery wheel Inside me. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s “I won’t hurt you” (1966), heard in Laida Lertxundi’s Vivir para Vivir / Live to Live (2015) In LA, everyone’s Marlon Brando’s gardener. Cruising through a city sold and resold as a promised land, we’ve nothing to guide us but our passions for prosperity, for fame, for space, for spirit. All of us here somehow find a place in the end, even if it’s only as workers in others’ gardens, Edens owned by those that cast our dreams in moving pictures and the developers that sell or rent us our own smallest bite of paradise. Made in L.A. 2016 is almost explicitly not about Los Angeles, though the city’s still the set. Everyone likes to look in the mirror sometimes, and a localist biennial has some vanity for sure, but the city’s self-regard (Los Angeles again playing itself, to riff on gay porn auteur Fred Halsted through cine-essay maker Thom Andersen) has been finally outpaced by others’ regard for it. Such biennials can easily be read as a trend report for …

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