Coinciding with the annual meeting of the College Art Association in Los Angeles, The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is hosting the offsite working session “Making Time at Human Resources” on February 22, 2012. Participants have been invited to post some brief thoughts on the topic in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Carol Stakenas, Executive Director of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).
LACE has been a crucial participant in Los Angeles artistic production for over three decades. One can argue that LACE’s existence emerged directly from the creative intensity generated in Los Angeles in the 1970’s. More specifically, performance art was a driving force behind the emergence of Los Angeles’s alternative spaces, including LACE. At the same time, performance-based activities provided a central platform for three new forms of contemporary practice to emerge: performance art, video art and public practices.
Most recently, our exhibition and performance series, Los Angeles Goes Live: Performance Art in Southern California 1070-1983 focused on the disparate elements of the vibrant Southern California contemporary scene. In what ways did these wildly diverse practices unify and stratify Los Angeles’ art scene and its perception of itself? The impact of this abundance of action informed the studio practices of many artists as it provided an outlet for “out of the box” behavior. We intentionally invited artists from different generations including Cherie Gaulke, Jerri Allyn, Suzanne Lacy, James Luna and Ulysses Jenkins who were all active in Los Angeles in the 70s. The other commissioned artists: Heather Cassils, Liz Glynn, Ellina Kevorkian, OJO, Denise Uyehara and Dorian Wood brought mid-career and emerging artists into the mix. This selection did generate a desired fractionation and blending of form and content. At the same the, the group underscored a fundamental awareness and commitment by each artist to context and her/his desire to stop focusing on history long enough to be present now.
“I’d like to be sure that Kaprow’s intentions and ideas surrounding the work are not lost in attempts to replicate a historical moment.” (Steve Roden)
In 2008, LACE invited artist Steve Roden to develop a reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s seminal Happening –18 Happenings in 6 Parts. He assembled a creative team, which included Rae Shao-Lan Blum, Simone Forti, Michael Ned Holte, Steve Irvin, and Flora Wiegmann among others. This new vision of the work was based on Kaprow’s original notes and writings and grounded in the artists’ intensive research at the Getty Research Institute in Kaprow’s archive. At the same time, the team made bold decisions on how to create the work in a contemporaneous setting that generated a productive dialogue with the Kaprow Estate, which ultimately led to the Estate’s endorsement of the process and performance.
While the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative punctuated LACE’s historical position in performance art, our long-term commitment to performance continues, thanks to these artists and many others, including Dino Dinco and Brian Getnick, who both served as guest curators recently.
It is with this in mind that I look forward to our conversation – to continue to grapple with the challenges (economics, politics, entertainment expectations, boundaries of form) performance art provides for its practitioners and for the organizations that are committed to making space for these creative practices.