Off-site projects! Out-there acts! The California Biennial is all shook up

Angeleno, October 2008

Aram Moshayedi: The Curator Q&A
“We’re trying to resist categories and putting artists together in simplistic ways,” says LA><ART founder/director Lauri Firstenberg, who is curating the Orange County Museum of Art’s California Biennial (October 26–March 15, along with assistant curator Aram Moshayedi. As the exhibition’s first independent curators since its inception in 1984, Firstenberg and Moshayedi have gathered together over 50 of the Golden State’s most exciting artists and are bucking Biennial convention by refusing to theme the show while also amping up the number of wildly experimental performers and collaboratives. Moshayedi sheds light on how such a vastly different Biennial took shape and how it will recast the way we view California art.

Is California reentering a significant era in art? California has never stopped being a significant place for artists to live and work! The art schools throughout the state have always been a major draw for important figures—Mary Kelly and Yvonne Rainer, for example (both are in the biennial). It’s only recently, though, that a number of curators, gallerists and writers are finding themselves here en masse, which will surely change how Los Angeles and San Francisco are perceived in an international sense.

Is there a current Zeitgeist among California artists? Defining this was largely the role of the exhibition in the past. The intergenerational approach is intended to look beyond those trends and styles that may or may not come to adequately define a moment in time, and instead create a context that retains the historical links between emerging, mid-career and more established,
or historical, artists.

We live in a big state. How do you take a survey of all of its art? One way is by deterritorializing the exhibition throughout the state [with projects at additional locations]. Those programs and exhibitions will function semi-autonomously while the OCMA becomes a hub for biennial activity. The wide-ranging platforms will, in themselves, speak to the disparate artistic practices that exist here.

What about the LA><ART-produced public projects? Jedediah Caesar’s monumental brick of cast resin and detritus will be inserted into the burgeoning Culver City district, and Piero Golia’s Lighted Sphere will be installed atop the Standard Hollywood.

Any favorites? William Leavitt’s Gothic Curtain (1970/2008). This sculpture and sound work has never been seen publicly, and our curatorial team has actually only seen it in a photograph from 1970, when the piece was installed in the artist’s studio. The original curtain has since been destroyed, and we are working with Leavitt to restage the piece for the first time. –Alexis Johnson

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