One surprise we had upon moving to St Louis from Los Angeles was meeting another recently transplanted Angeleno, Dana Turkovic, an independent curator who used to work at the Hammer. Dana has brought challenging and innovative new work to this city, and most recently, worked with Matthew Strauss at White Flag Projects to bring a taste of LA to St Louis in the just-opened exhibition, modular: New Art from Los Angeles.
Dave Hickey once called Los Angeles the ultimate postmodern city. It’s diverse, all-inclusive, and tenuously connected with a gridwork of highways linking everything to everything; it’s a hyper-constructed, artificial, surreal, multi-lingual, multi-everything kind of place. For someone unfamiliar with it, modular captures a spirit that is reflective of the ethos of the city.
For the art community in St Louis, which is culturally sophisticated and savvy, although perhaps more accustomed to the polished exhibitions of area institutions like the Pulitzer Foundation, it’s a clear and well-presented introduction to the surprisingly loose and simultaneously tense aesthetic of contemporary Los Angeles. For example, Louisa Van Leer’s witty and culture-critiquing Looking at Me, Looking at You (2006), has torn scraps of blue masking tape with assembly directions stuck on most of its wood planes, and Hollis Cooper’s multi-layered piece, Parallax (2006), uses industrial PVC sheets as the surfaces of her site-specific painting.
If LA is indeed the frontrunner of emergent art, then modular at White Flag Projects is the place to see the kind of ebullient and gritty work that’s in the forecast for the near-future.
modular: New Art from Los Angeles runs through February 10.