Practice Sessions is an initiative designed to create critical visibility for artists working in the public sphere. Through an ongoing video series that features artists and their collaborators, the project showcases public art practices that are underrepresented in contemporary arts. The videos not only document the perspective of the artists, but also those of their co-producers, community members and stakeholders. By offering multiple voices and perspectives, Practice Sessions shows how these artists collaboratively respond to diverse social and political contexts outside of traditional art spaces, and enact civic participation through a direct engagement with local communities.
Practice Sessions artists include:
In February 2012, LACE hosted Dutch sound artist collective Staalplaat Soundsystem for a 10-day residency. Using “ everyday electronic junk” scavenged from thrift stores and donations, Staalplaat founders and resident artists Geert-Jan Hobijn and Carlo Crovato constructed a site specific, interactive sound installation that was controllable by the audience via smartphones, allowing the public to conduct an “orchestra” both inside LACE and outside from the Walk of Fame.
In 2012, LACE commissioned Natalie Bookchin to produce a new work titled Now he’s out in public and everyone can see. This 18-channel video installation weaves together found fragments from online video diaries in which vloggers recount a series of media scandals involving African American men. The multiple stories intersect around themes of racial and class identity and explore popular attitudes, anxieties, and conflicts about race. Developed over two and a half years, this work creates a critical context for otherwise isolated and scatter-shot online voices, drawing links, making connections, and locating tropes between individual rants and responses.
In three installments, Slanguage members interview the next generation of artists that have an investment in pedagogy and community-focused art practices. The interviews present Slanguage’s relationship to a diverse range of artists, students, and communities, and explore the group’s decade-long approach to artmaking – through education, community-building, and interactive exhibitions. The interviewed art collectives include: We Can (Wilmington Enrichment Community Artist Network), ELLAS collective, and Slanguage Teen Art Council (STAC).
Ultra-red’s three-part “Practice Sessions” videos guide viewers through the different stages of the sound research process. The first video examines how a research team organizes itself and develops a question that guides their inquiry. The second video walks viewers through the process of making audio recordings that catalyze the collective reflections of community members. The third video addresses putting together a listening session that generates new ideas and questions for the next stage of research. Each video includes two instructional modules and an appendix. The appendices offer viewers some of the theoretical basis for the ideas presented in the video as well as give background about Ultra-red and how we have used militant sound research over the years.
COCINA ABIERTA COLLECTIVE
In the summer of 2014, LACE presented Help Wanted, a research-based residency and exhibition by the Cocina Abierta Collective. Since 2011, the collective has documented and born witness to the experiences of restaurant workers in Los Angeles. The collective’s public practice provides a platform for engaging restaurant workers and consumers in dialogue about the realities of the restaurant industry. Through these pedagogically driven engagements, the collective facilitates the fluid exchange of immigrant histories, culinary skills, and base building strategies towards the development of a worker-centered philosophy to eating ethically. For Help Wanted, curated by Jacqueline Bell, the collective chose to investigate the neighborhood of Hollywood from the perspective of the restaurant worker.
CHATS ABOUT CHANGE
Chats About Change: Critical Conversations on Art and Politics was five conversations addressing contemporary themes that artists and activists are developing in Los Angeles today. The dialogues critically engaged the topics of; participatory structures in culture, confrontational art practice, the dialectic of the spiritual and the political, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the politics of land use in a session co-organized with Sandra de la Loza. Chats About Change, independently organized by artists Elana Mann and Robby Herbst, represented a grassroots response to the national phenomena of the institutionalization of social practice art within hegemonic institutions. Chats About Change aimed to strengthen local networks of politically oriented artists through a self-organized forum fostering analytical reflection and response.
This video documents the first exhibition of the LACE Emerging Curators program. Curators Idurre Alonso and Selene Preciado discuss about the concept of the show, language as a tool to reflect power relations, hierarchies, social differences, and historical problems, as well as a cultural system of belonging that can indicate the loss or reconfiguration of certain kinds of identities. The video shows part of Language + Art, a panel with artists Beatriz Cortez, Rubén Ortiz-Torres, and Marcos Ramírez ERRE together with the curators. Two artist’s profiles are presented: Gala Porras-Kim and Beatriz Cortez.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support for Practice Sessions has been generously provided by the James Irvine Foundation and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Support for the Customizing Language video and accompanying catalog is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.