Bojagi: A Community Textile Project

March 31, 2014

In the Boone Children’s Gallery, from now through June 30, you can be a part of something big. So big, in fact, that you might contribute to a world record! From Monday through Friday, one table in this drop-in art-making space is dedicated to the art of bojagi—a Korean patchwork textile that is used for wrapping gifts and important documents. Unlike some American patchwork traditions like quilting bees, bojagi are usually sewn together by just one single maker; most often a resourceful woman using what fabric scraps she had at hand. In the spirit of collaboration, however, we are breaking tradition by inviting as many hands as possible to contribute to the creation of a community-made work of art.

Boone Children's Gallery staff and collaborators working on the community bojagi

Boone Children’s Gallery staff and collaborators working on the community bojagi

You can be a part of this exciting new project by visiting the Boone Children’s Gallery during the week (open until 5 pm daily) to stitch together a few squares (or more!) of provided fabric. We also invite people to bring their own clean fabric, which can be brand new or remnants from a past project, or even cut from a retired garment. No sewing experience is needed, as Boone Children’s Gallery staff are there to guide you through the entire process. In fact, recently six-year-old twins, who had never sewn before, came in with their father. They stayed for two hours and quickly became sewing ninjas—whipping out stitches faster than a seasoned seamstress. Don’t worry if the kids in your group are too young to safely hold a needle, they can still be a part of the community effort by drawing on fabric that you, or Boone staff, can attach to the larger textile.

Very young children can contribute by painting or drawing on fabric.

Very young children can contribute by painting or drawing on fabric.

Our consultant on the project is San Francisco Bay Area–artist Youngmin Lee. She patiently taught us how to sew, gave us tips for teaching bojagi to kids, and shared the history of this art form that was widely popular during the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) and remains a Korean tradition still to this day. You too can have the unique experience of working with Youngmin as she is leading monthly bojagi workshops in April, May, and June. She will teach you sewing techniques as you contribute to the community piece and will get you started on your own Korean-inspired textile to take home. All materials are provided and the workshops are free! To sign up for a workshop, call the Ticket Office at 323 857-6010 or click here.

The patchwork textile reflects the diversity of visitors to the Boone Children’s Gallery.

The patchwork textile reflects the diversity of visitors to the Boone Children’s Gallery.

So far over 100 people have added to the bojagi. We hope it grows to be the biggest bojagi ever recorded in history! At the end of the project, we will hang the bojagi in the Boone Children’s Gallery for everyone to see. The art work will be a public display of the diversity of ages, experiences, stories, and memories of all those who contributed to it. I read somewhere that wrapping a gift in bojagi ensures that it is given with love. This project came with a lot of passion and love from staff and everyone who has contributed to it so far. The next step: what will we wrap with it?

bojagi_wrap2

Karen Satzman, Director, Youth and Family Programs


This Weekend at LACMA: New Installations from Helen Pashgian and Ancient Mesoamerica, Emily Mast and ‘The Least Important Things,’ and More!

March 28, 2014

March to the museum this last weekend of the month for the opening of Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible. Since the 1960s, contemporary Los Angeles sculptor Helen Pashgian has experimented with light and space and now, in her first large-scale sculptural installation, Pashgian has created an immersive meditation on the nature of material and light. Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible opens to the public on Sunday; LACMA members see it first during Member Preview Days on Friday and Saturday.

Helen Pashgian, Untitled, 2012–2013, © Helen Pashgian, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Helen Pashgian, Untitled, 2012–13, © Helen Pashgian, photo © 2014 Museum Associates/LACMA

Also debuting this weekend on Saturday, The Painted City: Art from Teotihuacan looks at painted ceramics from the ancient Mesoamerican metropolis of Teotihuacan, a prosperous city that grew to be the sixth largest in the world during the fifth century and a regional hub for artists and merchants. Gain insight into the city’s artistic tradition through the pictorial writing system that adorned the city.

The Least Important Things, a performance from L.A.-based artist Emily Mast, continues on Friday and Saturday. This procession of theatrical vignettes will occur throughout campus and feature “stage poetry” from Joan Brossa, exploring topics of incoherence, the quotidian, and popular entertainment. This performance series is free to the public.

Lyle Ashton Harris, Verona #1 (detail), 2001–4, Dunbar, New York, © Lyle Ashton Harris

Lyle Ashton Harris, Verona #1 (detail), 2001–4, Dunbar, New York, © Lyle Ashton Harris

On Sunday, Andell Family Sundays—The Art of Soccer at 12:30 pm invites children and parents to create their own Fútbol: The Beautiful Game inspired art. In the evening see pianist Abbey Simon at this week’s Sundays Live concert beginning at 6 pm. While you’re visiting, take advantage of daily, free tours of the collection and temporary exhibitions, including walkthroughs of our German Expressionism galleries (Saturday at 2:30 pm) and a full tour of Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic (Sunday at 11:30 am). Have at it!

Roberto Ayala


Urban Light Goes Dark for Earth Hour

March 28, 2014

You might notice something different about Urban Light this Saturday. For one hour, between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm, the 220 vintage lampposts will go dark.

LACMA is participating in Earth Hour, a global movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), to raise awareness for energy conservation by turning off the lights of our iconic sculpture. Last year, over 7,000 cities and 154 countries participated in this event, in which everything from a singular office to monumental landmarks were darkened for one hour.

Earth Hour Digital Logo

Urban Light won’t be the only landmark to go dark on Saturday—we hear the the Eiffel Tower will also be participating.

Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008, the Gordon Family Foundation’s gift to “Transformation: The LACMA Campaign,” © Chris Burden

The museum is already doing its part to promote energy conservation and promote the benefits of renewable energy. Urban Light is powered by solar panels, which are located above BP Grand Entrance. Although the energy required to power Urban Light is sourced from environmentally conscious means, LACMA, with artist Chris Burden’s permission, will allow the work of art to go dark as a symbolic support of Earth Hour and spotlight what can be accomplished using clean, renewable energy sources.

solarpanels

Help spread the word about Earth Hour via social media. Take advantage of this rare occasion when Urban Light goes dark, and snap your photos of the sculpture and tag it with#EarthHour on Instagram and Twitter. Your photo will be part of a pool of supporters that, collectively, will make a difference in bringing awareness to this important cause.

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Want to do more to help the planet? Earth Hour also recently launched its crowdfunding platform. Through this platform, individuals can affect real, tangible change in projects that are important to them. Invest in protecting the Amazon, help Canada go renewable, fund a ranger, or suggest a project to be crowdsourced.

Linda Theung, editor


Emily Mast: The Least Important Things

March 27, 2014

For The Least Important Things, Emily Mast stages sixteen poems by Joan Brossa (1919–1989), a Catalan artist and poet little known to American audiences. Mast’s performance unfolds in different parts of the museum before a limited, itinerant audience that follows the troupe throughout stairs, hallways, shortcuts and rarely visited spots of the campus. Brossa created his scenic poetry (staged poetry), hybrid creatures with one foot on the page and the other on the stage, in the Barcelona of the avant-garde and Franco’s dictatorship, well aware of the experimental theater developed by Surrealist and Dada artists. Brossa had a profound interest in popular entertainment, manifested in the frequent appearance in his writing of magic, mimicry, cabaret, and ventriloquism, along with other theatrical traditions like Commedia dell’arte.

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

In the trajectory proposed by Mast for The Least Important Things, the audience first encounters a poem written with toothpicks on the plaza and then goes on an excursion by the periphery of the theater: its corridors, its lobby, the small auditorium located underneath, the back garden, the adjacent grand stairs. The jaunt continues throughout various outdoor spaces to finally arrive in the Ahmanson Building for the conclusion. During this secular procession, the audience visits the dissimilar architecture of the museum, which serves as a background for the staged actions. But the intervals are as important to this project as the stations, the displacement embodied by an audience wandering through nondescript spaces connecting the dots among these open-ended actions precisely described by Brossa. Precision, however, does not mean plausibility. Most of the objects or poems created by Brossa are furiously literal. They allude to their most basic meaning creating the illusion of an immediate, unequivocal translation.  Some of Brossa’s poems are almost untranslatable to the theatrical grammar since they are caught in a cross-fire: they create a poetic image that promises to be fully delivered on stage but the image truly lies on the instructions, the verbal path created to grab it. Brossa’s voracity guided his work to a zone of continuous transference and in-betweeness. His poems are objects and plays and music and graphic signs and gestures and then poems again through a rigorous vice versa.

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Theater is often the subject of Mast performances. She interrogates theater as a construct, and fights against its invisible ways in a considerable amount of works. For Offending the Audience (2011), a project presented at the Panorama Theater in Los Angeles, Mast staged the famous anti-theater play written by Peter Handke in 1966, with a cast of children. Naturally, the actors—and the audience–struggled to make sense of Handke’s text and the expected confrontation resulted into a massive act of miscommunication. By shifting the focus to the actors and not the text, Mast magnified the disproportionate weight of Handke’s “manifesto” on the shoulders of the performers, creating a play inside the play that advanced its plot beyond the dogmatic spirit of the original text.

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Through a series of vignettes, B!rdbrain (2012) explored provisional connections between theater as language and language as a theater. There is no plot although the story of Alex, a case study parrot believed to be able to think and speak, permeates the performance. The set is reminiscent of Guy de Cointet’s sets for his performances in the 1970s, which also revolved around language as a fictive transaction.  Mast addresses the derailed structures of language and theater with a cast of performers from very different backgrounds: a theater director, a stuntman, a sign language interpreter, a stutterer, a stand-up comedian, a child actor and an auctioneer. All these theatrical languages and their gestualities are brought together to build a modest, faulty Babel tower that crumbles before the audience.

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Mast and Brossa share more than one misunderstanding but probably what drew Mast to Brossa’s work was his deliberate confusion between language and theater. In an effort to introduce Brossa’s work to American audiences, Mast enlisted the help of Débora Antscherl to complete a crucial aspect of her performance: the translation of selected Brossa works into English, in most of the cases, for the first time.

Translation seems to always be part of a performance: the transit from one body to another, the elastic arch holding them together. In I Remember, I Remember (originally published in July 2012 and available online at the page of the Poetry Foundation), American poet Mary Rueffle describes a poetry reading by Rafael Alberti she attended in her youth. It was a lesson on translation, performance and the least important things:

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

Photo by Amanda Jane Shank

“(…) Alberti read his poems in Spanish and his American translator, Ben Belitt, read them in English. Ben was sober, shy, outwardly conservative; he wore a tweed jacket and tie. Alberti gave Ben a toy pistol, what was called a cap gun, a toy capable of making very loud noises, and told Ben to shoot himself in the head whenever he, Alberti, gave the signal, and that is exactly what happened: Alberti would be reading in Spanish, pause, look at Ben, and Ben would reluctantly shoot himself in the head. But when Ben read the poems in English, Alberti had the pistol and from time to time shot himself in the head with real gusto. I felt it was a great lesson in translation (…)”

This is an excerpt from “Emily Mast Made Me,” an essay included in The Least Important Things, a publication edited by Mast in the occasion of her performance at LACMA.

José Luis Blondet, Associate Curator of Special Initiatives

 


Shigeyuki Kihara’s “Siva in Motion”

March 26, 2014

Shigeyuki Kihara’s work is deeply connected to her homeland, Samoa. While she currently lives in cosmopolitan New Zealand and recently completed a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York, Kihara continues to maintain a studio in the Samoan island of Upolu. Her work has been presented at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Auckland Triennial, and the Sakahàn Quinquennial. It has also been featured in many private and public collections internationally, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

LACMA recently acquired Siva in Motion, a performance video commissioned in 2012 by the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki of New Zealand.

In this silent performance, Kihara explores the ancient Samoan dance form taualuga. She wears a restrictive Victorian mourning dress in the guise of her alter-ego, “Salome,” who developed out of a fusion of ideas, which began when Kihara first encountered a photograph titled Samoan Halfcaste (1886). The picture—in the archives at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand—features a Samoan woman in a Victorian mourning dress photographed by New Zealand photographer Thomas Andrew. The woman in the photograph is anonymous, so Kihara identified her as a character inspired Oscar Wilde’s play, Salome, who used dance to manipulate political power. Salome became Kihara’s 19th-century muse in revisiting Samoa’s colonial history through her alter ego’s resurrection in the postcolonial present.

Title: Thomas Andrew, Samoan half case. From the album: Views in the Pacific Islands, 1886, courtesy of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Title: Thomas Andrew, Samoan half case. From the album: Views in the Pacific Islands, 1886, courtesy of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Salome wears an impractical costume, which was introduced to Samoa in the early 19th century by colonial administrators. Her dance movements are informed by the taualuga and describe the Pacific tsunami of September 2009, which took the lives of more than 189 people in American Samoa, Samoa, and northern Tonga. Precise traditional hand gestures revisit the memories of ancestors, political negotiations, and activities of life, weaving past and present.

Kihara uses this complex ballet, fragmented as if in reference to Modernist works such as Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) by Marcel Duchamp or sequential photography of Eadweard Muybridge, to convey the wisdom and steadiness of indigenous belief systems while simultaneously echoing the destructive waves of the 2009 tsunami.

Her motions are multi-tracked in post production, creating an effect similar to the work of two 19th-century French photographers, Georges Demeny and Étienne-Jules Marey, who employed a “camera” capable capturing 12 consecutive frames a second, which could be used to record multiple phases of movement in one photograph.

Étienne-Jules Marey, Analysis of the Flight of a Pigeon by the Chronophotographic Method, 1883–87, Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Étienne-Jules Marey, Analysis of the Flight of a Pigeon by the Chronophotographic Method, 1883–87, Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Earlier work by Kihara, such as Fa’afafine; in a Manner of a Woman (2005), responded to studio portraits of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, taken by New Zealand photographers of European heritage. The photographs depicted young Samoan women, often in a state of partial undress as the anonymous subjects of a colonial fantasy.

‘Fa’afafine; In the Manner of a Woman’ (2005) Triptych 1/3 Shigeyuki Kihara Courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara Studio and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand

Shigeyuki Kihara, Fa’afafine; In the Manner of a Woman, 2005, courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara Studio and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand

By using her own body as part of the artistic material posing as the subject and serving as director, Kihara captures elements of sepia-toned ethnographic photography, yet looks outward with a penetrating gaze, reversing the roles of voyeur and model. She creates a palpable tension, as if to reclaim the standing of earlier generations.

Kihara has repeatedly assumed her Salome guise in live performance, video works, and still photography, often with the intention as she describes, “of exposing the inequalities, and complexities within the structure of power associated with sexuality, gender, race, and colonialism in the Pacific.” Her black-and-white series of 20 photographs from 2013, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? expresses somewhat more universal themes. Images from this series were photographed at several locations shortly after 2010 Cyclone Evan tore through the island of Upolu in Samoa, and reflect the severe damage of the event. As part of the series, we see Salome in a roofless and abandoned abandoned school structure carpeted with blooming plants.

‘Saleapaga Primary School after Tsunami Galu Afi, Saleapaga’ (2013) Shigeyuki Kihara Courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara Studio and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand

Shigeyuki Kihara, Saleapaga Primary School after Tsunami Galu Afi, Saleapaga, 2013, courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara Studio and Milford Galleries Dunedin, New Zealand

Three years earlier, the town of Saleapaga had been the center of the devastation of the 2009 tsunami, with substantial loss of life. Residents had reluctantly abandoned their seaside town to rebuilt on safer, higher land, yet distant from their coastal life. Kihara captures the beauty of a space reclaimed by nature and seemingly reflects on the resourcefulness and future of Saleapaga citizens. Standing as a witness to the aftermath of the devastation of the 2009 tsunami, Kihara embodies a subject that runs through her work, the merging of a seamless yet challenging past, present, and future.

Siva in Motion is currently on view in the Art of the Pacific Gallery located on the first floor of the Ahmanson Building.

For more on Shigeyuki Kihara’s work visit, shigeyukikihara.wordpress.com or vimeo.com/channels/shigeyuki.

Nancy Thomas, Senior Deputy Director for Art Administration and Collections

 


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