‘Made in LA’ 2018 @ The Hammer Museum – Review

September 14, 2018

In the most recent show at The Hammer Museum titled ‘Made in LA’, there was a potpourri of works that most provocatively were racially charged, yet the strongest works by Charles Long created an atmosphere of mysticism which made the visit worthwhile in itself. It is not to say, however, that the racial works (despite being critically acclaimed) were examples of bad art. Only that, when measured against the artwork that aims for the transcendent, and to authenticate the subject with a higher order than the ephemera of provincial American class identity, they appear less than sublime.

 

 

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Thus, to first focus on the preeminent work out of the whole museum: Charles Long’s installation invokes a shamanistic impulse toward venerating the organism that is nature as a whole. Perspicaciously choreographed to play with light and a serene background soundtrack, the radial installation is an immediate teleportation to a sacredness. This sacredness is charmingly distant from a stereotypical and anodyne organized religious effort at aiming at the same target. It most crucially and successfully imprints on the subject’s soul a oneness with a higher cosmic motion, and masterfully without the subject needing to make any concerted effort. This is because of the veritable awe that is conjured with the mystique of the sentience of nature, and its reverence by a pseudo-Mayan civilization that is artfully crafted to appear to have culturally took care in nurturing its presence. The cathedral mosaics are an almost satirical juxtaposition. Do they tauntingly dare to claim the primitive culture was clueless, or does it more harmoniously suggest the religiosity to the mystical power that makes itself personally knowable through the lumber in the work? I answer affirmatively in the latter. And by extension, we can see the appeal by the artist Mr. Long is returning us to the ever-permanent sacredness of what lies beyond the walls of the city of man.

 

 

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Lauren Halsey received the Mohn Award for her ingenious pseudo-Egyptian archaeological ruin which amalgamated and brought to public a very quiet and obscure Afro-American identity. There is a reach, if not wish, by some in the Afro-American culture to be ancestrally rooted to the great Ancient Egyptian civilization, perhaps as a salve over the historical plight on the American continent but more positively as an affirmation of their existence. And it is this affirmation which is apparent with Ms. Halsey’s works. She splendidly does not pepper any of the artwork with the dialectical presence of any other race – as tempting as it is; albeit such racialization is also incredibly unoriginal.

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