Local Culture: Made in L.A.

It’s here. After much fanfare, innumerable reviews, blog posts, and city-wide billboards, Made in LA 2012 commences with a two-day opening: on Saturday, June 2 at the Hammer and LAXArt and Sunday, June 3 at LAMag.

Made in LA is the Hammer Museum’s first attempt at a large-scale survey of Los Angeles-based artists–60 to be exact–who will display their work at 3 separate locations (the Hammer, LAXArt, and Barnsdall Art Park) over the coming weeks. The goal according to the Hammer? To “offer a snapshot of the current trends and practices coming out of Los Angeles, one of the most active and energetic art communities worldwide.”

Made in LA contributors vary dramatically from mid-career artists to emerging ones, from the under-recognized to the unrepresented, and their selected works are a melange of video installation, sculpture, photography, performance art, public art, etc.  In conjunction with the exhibit, there will also be public programs, performances, and events held at various art spaces across Los Angeles.

In a series of interviews conducted with the group (included in the exhibition catalog published by the Hammer), only one aspect truly ties the group together: Los Angeles.

Yet none of the artists can agree on what Los Angeles means to them, their careers, or their work.  Some approach the urban landscape with a sense of relief, a city that offers both physical and mental space. Others consider it reductionary to define themselves solely as Los Angeles artists.These varied perspectives are unsurprising perhaps, in a city that’s notoriously stereotyped as vapid or vain, yet has housed some of the most influential artists of our era.

Los Angeles, always contrasted with New York City, has rarely been considered as New York’s cultural equal. But while Woody Allen famously declared that “the only cultural advantage LA has over NY is that you can make a right turn on a red light,” Made in LA enacts a deliberate, almost combative protest against such stereotypes. The result is a complex study of a city that (maybe against all odds) has become a backdrop for an art world all its own.

For more information and a complete lists of artist and events, check out madeinla2012.org

Kit Warchol