Focus on PST: LA/LA
Along a lonely stretch of Main Street extending from Union Station to the Brewery Arts Complex, largely defined by seafood warehouses and girded by railroad tracks, sits Werkartz, a co-working pop-up venue and production space aligned with a new gig economy in which everything is collaborative, curated, and temporary, and the aesthetic rage is for adaptive reuse with an edgy urban flair. For the elegant roguery of the hybrid exhibition and art fair that is proyectosLA, it’s the perfect fit. Representing the programs of approximately 20 international galleries whose focus is on the work of modern and contemporary Latin American artists, proyectosLA was conceptualized and coordinated to be a highlight of the Getty’s PST LA/LA initiative, and so it is.
Organized in two parts, proyectosLA is an intimate art fair up front, and a sprawling, lively, ultra-hip museum-level group exhibition in the back. The galleries are arrayed in cozy white-box booth-nooks ringing a central space; the back entrance opens onto a 20,000 square foot complex of lightly parsed industrial space, with all the inherent architectural character, challenges, and vintage factory grandeur anyone could want. The effect is dramatic; it fairly screams avant-garde from the get. Curators Luisa Teixeira de Freitas and Claudia Segura installed the ambitious group show after working with the exhibiting galleries to select what are mostly large-scale, architecturally engaged, mixed media installations and historically significant contributions from their programs. The galleries by contrast and necessity have installed intimate installations featuring micro-surveys of their programs. Both parts include a good ratio of the familiar and the new-to-you, at no point short on visual, material, and political drama.
There are several artists with some familiarity to LA audiences, many of whom are currently represented in PST LA/LA shows at other venues, like Carmen Argote (at LACMA), as well as Edgard de Souza, Dario Escobar, Los Mondongo (at LACMA), Eduardo Sarabia, Graciela Iturbide (at Rose Gallery), Ruben Ortiz-Torres (at Royale Projects and the MAK Center), Jose Davila, Fanny Sanin (at LA Louver), and Marta Minujin (at the Hammer). The group installation includes some understated abstract works, dynamic narrative compositions, fearless material experiments, overt and oblique social commentary, and lots of poetry. Of special impact are installations that make full use of the height and rawness of the concrete and steel spaces. Argote’s lofty installation of a painted-fabric Mexican homestead speaks to issues of transitory history through architectural memory; a pageant of stentorian and totemic post-folk sculptures by Francisco Matto from 1979 enters into an unconventional but narratively salient discourse with the patinated metal loft that surrounds them. A monumental found-signage assemblage addresses humanitarian issues of the immigration crisis by Jose Carlos Martinat in perhaps the single most resonant emblem of both the aesthetic and the lineage of the cross-border influences at the heart of the whole undertaking.
proyectosLA, September 20 – October 28, 2017 at Werkartz, 1667 N Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, www.proyectosla.com.