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Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye

Even with today’s technology, it still seems difficult to capture the exact moment you begin to fall down on your bum. But capturing that same exact moment in a live performance? Impossible. Chinese artist, Xu Zhen, proves us wrong though. Featured at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) at Grand Avenue, Xu focuses on that exact moment we’re unlikely to process.

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, July 27–September 1, 2019 at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Myles Pettengill.

Suspended in midair and frozen in time, a group of performers float mysteriously as if defying the laws of physics. These performers are part of the exhibition titled, In Just a Blink of an Eye. As in, you were standing up straight one moment and in just a blink of an eye, you fall down on the floor trying to comprehend what just happened.

Curator of this exhibition, Amanda Hunt, explains the meaning behind the artworks:

The work engages notions of the body as material, and in turn the materiality of the body, testing the limits of physical and cognitive possibilities as the viewer tries to comprehend what we see. A prolific and experimental artist, Zhen’s conceptually-driven practice encompasses a vast range of media and often employs humor, irony, and sophisticated trickery. As the audience waits for movement, for the performer to stand up, or for them to continue to follow the rules of gravity, they instead experience time and stillness as moments extend and are stretched out on through these living sculptures. Xu Zhen explores fragility and balance, literally and metaphorically, spatially and temporally.

Photo by Myles Pettengill.

Apart from trying to find out how this illusion is achieved, these performance pieces really spark a series of deeper questions. Is this exhibit really a “performance piece”? Can these performers be considered “sculptures”?

Performance art can be traditionally defined as “Live Art,” a performance presented in front of an audience that can be either scripted, unscripted, random, carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise planned with or without audience participation. It can also take form via media where the performer can be either present or absent.

In In Just a Blink of an Eye, the performers are frozen in mid-action, restricted from any movement other than blinking. In this case, it could be defined as “Live Art,” but the very stillness of each performer begs the question of where and when the “performance” aspect kicks in. The blurred lines get further stretched out when we start referring to the performers as “sculptures”. Because they are suspended and frozen in time, they take on the visual aspect of sculptures. It is only until the performer starts blinking when you realize that this is a live person taking the shape of a sculpture.

However you would like to interpret it, Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye is being exhibited for one last weekend at MOCA Grand Avenue this Saturday and Sunday, August 31st and September 1st from 11am-5pm. Free with purchase of regular admission.

To learn more about this exhibit, check out this video by MOCA:

Shopping at Sparrow Mart

Welcome to a world of felt! This past weekend I had the honor of checking out the new installation by Lucy Sparrow, a London-based artist who works almost exclusively in felt by creating soft versions of existing objects. For her first big break in Los Angeles, Lucy has made an entire supermarket fully stocked with over 31,000 products all made by hand and signed by her! You will literally find everything in this market. Don’t believe me? See the images below:

I first read about this artist in 2015 when she exhibited Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium. Although details about this installation and the products that it housed would be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work) for LAAFA, the simple idea of an artist creating products entirely out of felt was so peculiar that I instantly fell in love with her work.

All the products in this installation are available to buy and range from $15 to $200 and up (like, $50,000 and up). In a recent interview that Lucy did with The Cut, she mentions why she chose felt. “I decided to work with felt because I find that it’s a medium that is so synonymous with being a child. It’s an easy fabric to work with, it doesn’t fray, it’s available in all the colors you could possibly think of. So, I thought, I wonder if I could make an entire shop that if you’re daydreaming, it looks similar enough that you could go there thinking it was real.”

And so she did. Having the chance to experience this supermarket in person brought out the child inside of me. I was suddenly transported back to the days when I would pretend to shop with plastic groceries and be a cashier with fake money and a register that ding’ed just like the real thing. It was an interactive world come to life and now my perspective of supermarkets will never be the same.

Sparrow Mart is located on the second floor of The Standard hotel at 550 S. Flower St. in Downtown, and runs August 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018. The installation is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.

 

 

Adam Matano for ARC

One of our very own instructors, Adam Matano, has been selected for the ARC! The ARC is the Art Renewal Center, a non-profit and educational foundation that is leading the revival of realism in the visual arts. They host one of the largest online museums where you will find anything from old masters, contemporary art, articles, letters, and other online resources. This year they host the 13th annual ARC Salon Traveling Exhibition, and Adam Matano will be part of it!

Adam Matano, The Hunter, 2017, 81.28 x 111.76 cm | 32 x 44 in Resin.

We were very excited to hear this news here at LAAFA, so we quickly jumped to ask him some questions about his experience. Below is a mini-interview with Adam:

-What does it mean to you to be chosen for this exhibition? Especially as an “honorable mention.”

“I am very excited to be included in this exhibition. I was awarded 3rd place in the animal category and as an honorable mention in the sculpture category, which means I can participate in the physical show that will travel from New York City to Los Angeles and end in Barcelona, Spain. I will be in the catalog for all three shows, but physically I will only be showing at the L.A. show at Sotheby’s auction house.”

 

-Tell me a bit about your piece, The Hunter. What was your thought process for it and why was it the piece that you chose to submit?

“The Hunter is a sculpture I did of a black African leopard. There is a strong juxtaposition in the pose versus what we may see on the surface when we think of such powerful animals. We’re at first taken aback, recognizing their incredible strength and powerful weapons, which, one on one, have the ability to kill us. What we fail to recognize is that there is much more to nature, theirs as well as our own, which given consideration and time will reveal something much more beautiful and complex given the chance. Leopards, specifically, are not the biggest, strongest, nor the fastest of the big animals, but they’re smart, and very adaptable. They are able to live close to man and are spread out on more contents than all the other cats. They’re the underdogs, as we are, surviving.”

 

-What advice do you have for our current (or future) students who are looking to submit to this kind of traveling exhibition?

“What is good about the ARC Salon exhibition is that it’s international and online. You have the opportunity to show with artists all over the world and potentially sell, without the added risk and expense of shipping. You can submit up to 3 pieces and to any or all your relevant categories. If you place in the competition, then you can join the traveling exhibition. Showing in person is ideal, because certain aspects of the work don’t translate in photos, such as scale, texture, etc. Also, you really need to walk around my sculpture to experience it. Every angle tells a different story.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations, Adam!


Adam Matano will be showcasing his work at the Sotheby’s, Los Angeles from December 4 through December 13, 2018. Opening reception will take place on December 4, 2018 from 6PM-8PM.