Smart Objects

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016, Jan 28 – 31

26 January 2016

LA will host artists and galleries from all over the world at the annual Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) art fair which opens on January 28 and runs until January 31.

In addition to the fair’s more regular exhibitors, such as MOT International and LA-based 1301PE, ALAC also provides space for ‘Freeways’, a group of galleries with programmes running four years or less, as well as a section dedicated to independent publishers, which debuts this year.

aqnb recommends:

Erica Baum for Bureau

Ry Rocklen for Feuer/ Mesler 

Lindsay Lawson for Gillmeier Rech

Derek Paul Boyle for Smart Objects

Printed Matter Inc.

Love and Truth (talk) with A.L. Steiner and Andrew Norman Wilson 

Unfriend Me (talk) by Charlie White and Amanda Ross-Ho

Built to Last: Artist-run LA (talk)

See the FB event page for more details**

Lindsay Lawson, ‘The Smiling Rock’ (currently in production) feature film., Ccourtesy the artist and Gillmeier Rech, Berlin.
Lindsay Lawson, ‘The Smiling Rock’ (currently in production) feature film., Ccourtesy the artist and Gillmeier Rech, Berlin.


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Ann Hirsch @ Smart Objects reviewed

5 November 2015

Most striking upon first entering the rather intimate space of LA’s Smart Objects is the bright orange-red carpet which now covers the customary gallery-white walls. As part of the LA-based artist Ann Hirsch’s Dr. Guttman’s Office, running October 23 to November 27, the cube is subverted and we’re off to a great start. This is a show that bends perceptions of time, maturity and femininity, as much as it does the art space. The press release describes an experience in childhood psychology and the show itself depicts the transition from the unaware preteen into the self-aware adult artist.

By blending these two personae together we get a successful amalgam of uninhibited creation and hyper-aware, selfie-culture works. The carpet emphasizes this warped reality of drawing the way through their inner child, as the viewer faces the wall-as-pile-floor-covering, evoking a feeling of being belly-down while standing up in a psychologist’s office. The shade of the carpet, too, is a vibrant blood orange. It feels nostalgic and evokes a simultaneous feeling of crawling through the entrails of the artist’s past.

Ann Hirsch, Dr. Guttman's Office (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy Smart Objects, Los Angeles.
Ann Hirsch, Dr. Guttman’s Office (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy Smart Objects, Los Angeles.

Hirsch seems to hold nothing back as she invites the viewer into her mentally and physically intimate spaces. The press release takes the form of a narrative that draws us in immediately and offers supplementary context for where the work has come from and where it could go. The show consists of recent video pieces and pencil portraits alongside large-scale reproductions of drawings made during the artist’s sessions with psychologist Dr. Guttman during childhood. The exhibition title alludes to this private region inside the doctor’s office, but could easily be taken as a metaphor for being inside the most secluded depths of the artist’s process of growth and self-awareness.

The curatorial set-up of Dr. Guttman’s Office compliments Smart Object’s limited wall space and carefully guides the viewer between the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of Hirsch’s work. A semi-freestanding column is installed in the center of the smaller second room. Four video monitors are built in, flush with the carpeted walls. These films present the classic moral dilemmas and experiences of being a woman and being an artist. In ‘conclusion: the real ann hirsch’, through several video diary entries, Hirsch considers the simultaneously empowering and competitive nature of making art around her feminism and femininity. This process is illustrated as Hirsch cuts between clips of her expressing her anxiety over putting her vagina on the internet, to being naked on camera and rationalizing, “the older I get the the more I realize I’m not gonna look this good for much longer, so I might as well get naked now”. In one clip she explains that art between feminists is about “seeing who can be the most honest, or self-aware and boundary-pushing”. She ends by adding, “I just have to pull out all the stops in an honest way, in a real way”.

Hirsch succeeds in bringing together works made in a number of periods of her life and levels of awareness, ultimately creating a reflection on the identity of the artist not often seen or explored. The progression between her repetitive childhood drawings of women to her more fantastical and androgynous portraits and self-aware video pieces, is immediately engrossing as the viewer plays voyeur. At the same time, Inside Dr. Guttman’s Office quickly falls into the realm of the relatable and the profound, as we find ourselves reflecting on the changes in our own lives, from childhood till now. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

Ann Hirsch’s Inside Dr. Guttman’s Office is on at LA’s Smart Objects, running October 23 to November 27, 2015.

Header image: Ann Hirsch, ‘Pretty Little Truth Tellers’ (2015). Install view. Courtesy Smart Objects, Los Angeles.

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Adam Cruces @ Smart Objects, May 29

29 May 2015

Adam Cruces brings a new solo exhibition, titled Diet Sonata, to Smart Objects, opening at their LA space on May 29.

The Houston-born, Zurich-based artist introduces Diet Sonata with a Hallmark-like text of awkward, repetitive, almost robotic greetings. “May all be well.” “Welcome home.” “Dear friends, wish you the best.” “We are happy here and you be happy there.”

The LA show comes on the heels of Cruces’s solo show, Sift, at Levy Delval this past spring, as well as a handful of group shows in the last few months, including Plowing Solids at New GalerieA Form is a Social Gatherer at Plymouth Rock, and C R A S H at New Scenario, and In the Clear, Caring, Curing, his joint show with Antoine Donzeaud at Milan’s NAM project.

See the exhibition page for details. **

Adam Cruces, Un Coucher de Soleil (2014) @ Exo. Courtesy the artist and the gallery.
Adam Cruces, Un Coucher de Soleil (2014) @ Exo. Courtesy the artist and the gallery.
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Material Art Fair 2015, Feb 5 – 8

3 February 2015

Mexico City’s first (and only) contemporary art fair, Material Art Fair, is coming back for its second edition this weekend, running at Auditorio Blackberry from February 5 to 8.

The fair is bringing 40 different international exhibitors exploring emerging arts, as well as a public programme of conferences organized by the New York magazine and non-profit organization Triple Canopy and a video series programmed by South London Gallery Associate Curator Anna Gritz.

The list of participants includes galleries and projects from all over, including: Mexico’s own Parallel Oaxaca (with Last Night) and Lodos gallery (with a Emanuele Marcuccio, Renaud Jerez, Edward Marshall Shenk and Victor Vaughn group show); LA’s Smart Objects and François Ghebaly Gallery; Brooklyn’s American Medium (with an Ann Hirsch, Brenna Murphy, Brian Kokoska, Kareem Lotfy, Morgan Ritter, and Zachary Davis group show) as well as 321 Gallery (with Jake Borndal, Erika Hickle, and Paul Kopkau); Queer Thoughts‘ solo show with David Rappeneau followed by a Puppies Puppies performance; and Paris’s New Galerie group show (with Dora Budor, Nico Colon, and Sean Raspet.

See the Material Art Fair website for details. **


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Keith J Varadi @ Smart Objects, Nov 7 – Dec 14

6 November 2014

Renaissance man Keith J. Varadi is opening up his latest solo exhibition, titled Nu Haiku and running at LA’s Smart Objects from November 7 to December 12.

The LA-based artist, writer and curator has already shown his work internationally, passing through Ricou Gallery in Brussels, Welcome Screen in London, and Stadium in NYC, as well as curating and organizing a selection of exhibitions through the States. His writing has also passed through some major art media outlets, including ARTFRUMKaleidoscope, and WOW HUH, as well as a collaborative book with artist John Roebas titled Happy Hour at Flem’s.

By way of a press release, Smart Objects merely released a haiku-like poem to introduce the show:

Revel in the might of a flashlight,

recognize how time flies over place,

and life costs like the backside of a dime.

See the Smart Objects exhibition page for details. **

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Never cargo terminal… @ Smart Objects exhibition photos

29 July 2014

The Lucy Chinen-curated Never cargo terminal has recently discovered the trembling hand of state secrets resounding oversold bounce child – running at LA’s Smart Objects from July 12 to August 8 – lifted its oddball title from a Google-translated text generated from the “Android Swype predictive typing of an ant pathway” by participating artist Adriana Ramić.

Ramić’s featured drawings and ebook base themselves around something as obscure as the studies of insect movements by French civil engineer Victor Cornetz. They’re then retraced onto an Android Swype keyboard, which in turn predicts subsequent words based on gestures, crowd-sourced dictionaries, official documents, and Ramić’s personal habitual vocabulary.

Perhaps, because so much of modern language has become overworked to the point of banality in the context of contemporary art (‘post-internet‘ and ‘speculative realism‘ as examples), more and more modern exhibitions are turning to lyrical, vaudeville-like titles like Never cargo terminal… to differentiate themselves. Except this one, it seems, is no longer meant to elucidate or conglomerate, but rather to point to something more ephemeral – the playfulness, the absurdity, the rapture of art.

Joining Ramić in the group exhibition are artists Kareem Lotfy and his Navajo-style woven blanket, as well as researcher-designer Simone C. Niquille, whose video ‘Here Be Faces: FaceValue Part2’ (2014) functions as a short story exploring the notion of camouflage through facial copyright, encrypted identity and plastic surgery. **

Exhibition photos, top-right.

Never cargo terminal… group exhibition is running at LA’s Smart Objects until August 8, 2014.

Header image: Here Be Faces: FaceValue Part2, video installation by Simone C. Niquille. Image courtesy Smart Objects. 

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Parker Ito @ Smart Objects reviewed

11 June 2014

For someone that never lived there, the US can be a very strange place. As an ostensibly secular country built around the supposedly rational ideology of democratic capitalism, a drive across its vast and varying landscape reveals a space steeped in its own mysticism, manifest in any form from the omnipresent evangelism of the bible belt to the rootless, new aged occultism of California. Somewhere between those two theologically and geographically oppositional, though equally extreme, poles lies Denver, Colorado. It’s a city that boasts the largest airport in the States and the focus of ‘post-internet’ superstar Parker Ito’s latest solo exhibition Part 1: Parker Cheeto’s Infinite Haunted Hobo Playlist (A Dream for Some, a Nightmare for others) at LA’s Smart Objects.

Parker Ito2
The thing about Denver International Airport is that it’s the subject of widespread criticism and conspiracy theories for its bewildering public art collection. There’s a bright blue 32-foot tall sculpture called ‘Mustang’ –glowing red-eyed and nicknamed ‘Blucifer’ –that killed its creator Luis Jiménez in 2006, a bunch of Masonic symbolism and a series of terrifying murals essentially depicting the Apocalypse. One of these very images features on the Smart Objects rooftop; a painted reproduction of a mysterious gas-masked fascist figure, impaling a white dove and leaving a trail of dead babies behind it, spanning the length and width of a wall. It’s the last thing you’ll see in the exhibition extending across the gallery’s two storey building –from the shower and toilet on the ground floor, to a couple of the private bedrooms upstairs, the laundry, and finally the roof.

On entering Smart Objects –with viewings by appointment and its window shutter rolled down –there’s a gaping, potentially landlord-enraging hole in the wall between the exhibition space and a disused elevator shaft. From there trail some intertwined LED light strips to be pinned to the ceiling and suspending a neon sign saying what looks like “yodirodiray”, a couple of bouquets of Ito’s familiar multi-coloured flowers from 2012’s The Agony and the Ecstasy and all four bathroom walls plastered with print collages of an online aesthetic that includes crude manga-like imagery, an illustrated hand holding an illustrated iPhone and spiky-fonted text reading fragments like “french blowjob” and “Nicolas Cage at the after party”. Across the living space above –also leased by the gallery but rarely, if ever, open to the public –hangs a sort of triptych split across rooms of Emmanuel Frémiet’s ‘Jeanne d’Arc’. The French hero and British foe clings to her sword above the washing machine, is obscured by chains (or is it links?) in one of the bedrooms, and then finally replaced by a stylised ‘self-portrait’ of Ito himself looking like the Angel of Death in another.

Parker Ito1
None of this seems to make logical sense, but on reflection, it kind of does. The ambiguous persona of Parker Ito –otherwise known as Parker Cheeto or “Parker Speedo, Parker Frito, Parker Dorito, Parker Ego and Parker Burrito” –trades on eschewing any kind of solid concept to his work, while shrouding the image of the artist behind it. The abstracted figure of ‘Parker Cheeto: the Net Artist‘ mimics the nonsensical nature of the global internet viewed through the lens of stoner conspiracy theorists reading meaning into the meaningless and constructing their own doom-y realities blurred across online and offline space.

While I’m sure I’m missing something when witnessing the high top hat of a dark green human-like sculpture hanged by fairy lights in the elevator shaft and resurfacing as a cartoon silhouette in the bathroom, the depiction of this particular apocalypse that, as its title suggests, serves some and scares others, is a fairly revealing one. Because, New World Order or not, all you can really do in the face of uncertainty is make sense of it how you can. **

Exhibition photos, top-right.

Parker Ito’s exhibition Parker Cheeto’s Infinite Haunted Hobo Playlist (A Dream for Some, a Nightmare for others) is on at LA’s Smart Objects, running May 30 to July 27, 2014.

All images: Parker Ito, Parker Cheeto’s Infinite Haunted Hobo Playlist (A Dream for Some, a Nightmare for others) exhibition view. Courtesy Smart Objects.


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