Los Angeles Art Show 2016 | Recap
Written By Desiree Cormier
We Choose Art’s FEMINIST Correspondence
The internationally acclaimed Los Angeles Art Show, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, was the IT-place to be this past weekend. The 180,000 square foot art fair benefitted St. Jude Medical Center and featured paintings, sculptures, installations and (much to our excitement) performance art, all from over 120 galleries, representing 20 countries from the Americas, Europe and Asia. The show is said to have drawn over 50,000 art enthusiasts over the course of the weekend and just in case you weren’t one of them, We Choose Art has you covered.
Here’s our recap:
Like most years, the LA Art Show offered a wide variety of modern and contemporary art. The art ranged in extremes from the politically charged, satirical, silk screen paintings of Knowledge Bennett to the murderous installation and performance by Melanie Pullen. From Ben Jones’ ping pong tables to the larger than life portraiture created by Zhenya Gershman. Even with the vast variety of art, there was an underlying theme that We Choose Art could not ignore and kept returning to. This year, it seems, the LA Art Show was taken over by not only female artists but more specifically, breathtaking female performance and installation artists!
ACE Gallery (who has given too many emerging artists their big break to name) could be seen all over the art fair hosting a myriad of different booths, but they really knocked it out of the park this year by hosting both Melanie Pullen and Millie Brown. Although vastly different in production, both ladies created performance pieces that captivated their audiences and kept them coming back.
Millie Brown is a British artist who first debuted her celebrated “Wilting Point” performance at Frieze Week New York in 2014 and we were lucky enough to witness it for ourselves this year from beginning to end. For this performance, Brown who adorned nothing but panties was surrounded by a carpet of fresh grass and newly cut flowers. Each day she laid on the grass and immersed herself in a silent, meditative state. According to her press release, while she was in this meditative state, she would “focus on the beauty of the external decomposition around her, and the evolving changes within.” To add to this already awe-inspiring performance, Brown abstained from basic necessities over the course of the 5 days, only allowing herself water. It was an overwhelmingly gorgeous sight to behold on opening night. Watching the flowers, grass and Brown herself reach their wilting point over the course of 5 days was just as magnificent. On the last day we were left with the bittersweet remnants of what once was; the beauty that was still fighting to shine through in the death and decay, and Brown, having undergone days of an internal and external change. It was truly superb.
The other fascinating performance(s) from the weekend, was the art of Melanie Pullen. Pullen graced us with two separate performance pieces from her work “High Fashion Crime Scenes.” On the premier evening of the art show, Pullen presented the audience with “The Hanging Woman.” The space for this piece had been completely transformed to look like, what is known as, “The Suicide Forest” in Japan. The setting was dark, ominous, and evocative. It was covered from floor to ceiling in foliage and felt of an eerie isolated location. We were presented with a reenactment of an unidentified victim who had hung themselves; using a hangman’s noose and herself as a lifeless (very REAL) hanging human for this performance, we, as the viewer was left stunned, uncomfortable, shocked and haunted by the memory of it. The other four days of the show Pullen gave us her performance, “The Soap Maker,” which is a reenactment of Leonarda Cianciulli’s horrendous murders. According to Pullen’s press release, “Cianciulli murdered three women between 1939 and 1940, and turned their bodies into soap and delicious teacakes that she happily enjoyed with family and friends.” Again, the scene was set in the menacingly dark and unnerving forest, except this time there was a solitary table in the center of it. The table held the body of what was representative of Cianciulli victim: dead, bloody and gruesome. “Bette Davis Eyes” could be heard blasting from speakers while Pullen who was also covered in blood, danced around and butchered the body even further. She could be seen pulling intestines and other innards from the lifeless corpse on the table while mounting and dismounting the body at her leisure. These performances drew large crowds every time and murmurs of “did you see that!?” in reference to her work were heard all weekend long.
Both Pullen and Brown’s performances, though completely different in execution and conception, really enchanted and enveloped their audiences in the experience. The aforementioned female performances, along with the influx of women artist in general, really set the tone at the art show this year and is hopefully foreshadowing for more great things to come, for women and for art.
Click here to view more photos from LA Art Show 2016.
Photos by Baha H. Danesh.