Art is a Human Condition
By Genie Davis
Through November 30th
Over 200 works of art stand in as patient, physician, and hospital staff surrogates at what once was the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center in West Adams.
Encompassing an enormous 40,000 square foot exhibition area taking up three floors of the former hospital, this exhibition is the cure for what ails you when it comes to the art scene in LA.
This immersive show is nothing short of awesome, both in terms of the wide-ranging variety of the installation pieces, sculptures, photographs and paintings on display, their individual brilliance, and in the audacity of the exhibit’s concept: take an empty building and inhabit it – with site-specific art.
Curator and art advisor John Wolf founded John Wolf Art Advisory & Brokerage in 2009 to help private collectors, institutions, and corporations create collections of contemporary art. Through his business, he was able to reach out to the current purchasers of the abandoned hospital, who plan to develop it – and temporarily take it over as a new form of institution: an art gallery such as you have never seen before.
Spanning the ground floor, including the cafeteria; the maternity ward, and the psychiatric ward – and on opening night, the morgue, where performance artist Millie Brown hung suspended from the ceiling– more than eighty artists take viewers into a world that is surreal and edgy, the setting unnerving, the art exploratory.
The exploration is quite literally about what it means to be human: to be born, to dare to imagine and dream, to be sick, to be cured, to die. The hospital is the stage – and a character itself – in the artistic drama that is life. No one can be completely cured of the “human condition.”
Opening night found the hospital busier than an emergency room on the night of a full moon, but the art enthusiast crowd did nothing to dispel the general, eerie dilapidation of the space, making the room-size installations and individual pieces alike pop with the visceral sensation of surprise and poignant recognition.
An open bar served drinks handed to viewers by volunteers clad in bloodied hospital scrubs. The elevators creaked and groaned. Of the two empty floors not used as exhibition space, it was discussed: “What’s on that floor, do you think?” The reply was: “Nothing, it’s haunted.”
Haunting would be the overall word for this show, the highlights of which are almost too numerous to mention.
There is the psych ward’s violently fuschia room installation by Amir H. Fallah, a visual depiction of a cluttered mind; the shower room housing Gintare Bandinskaite mixed media sculpture of a blood-filled tub; Matt Wedel’s ceramic sculptures in operating rooms; Christopher Reynolds’ salmon pink coating of utensils and walls in the hospital kitchen.
Strange green alien figures emerge from the hospital’s autoclaves, created by artists David Benjamin Sherry and Kim Simonsson. Daniel Arsham’s operating room sculpture is the figure of a man subsumed by a white melting substance. Distorted, broken sculptures by Johan Tahon and Laurent Grasso hover ghost-like, waiting for a cure that never comes in another operating arena. A photograph of a screaming man by Polly Borland is juxtaposed with a faded hospital wall mural of odd looking bunnies in the maternity ward.
The show thrills, chills, and resides in the spirit, a clammy hand to the forehead of a man strapped to a hospital gurney, a swift slap to the baby just-born and reluctant to cry. If there is one exhibition guaranteed to up the temperature of your art-viewing experience this fall, its Human Condition. Go check yourself in.
Artists exhibiting include:
Nina Chanel Abney, Ashton Allen, Daniel Arsham, Gintare Bandinskaite, Tanya Batura, Katherine Bernhardt, Louise Bonnet, Polly Borland, Delia Brown, Millie Brown, Kendell Carter, Ross Chisholm, Greg Colson, Chris Cran, Gregory Crewdson, Zoe Crosher, Mira Dancy, Marc Dennis, Marlene Dumas, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Nicole Eisenman, Amir H. Fallah, Louis Fratino, Derek Fordjour, Danny Fox, Louisa Gagliardi, Anna Glantz, Brendan Getz, Laurent Grasso, Heidi Hahn, Michael Haight, Brian Harte, Sebastian Herzau, Katie Herzog, Jenny Holzer, Marc Horowitz, Ridley Howard, Bettina Hubby, Leonhard Hurzlmeier, Matthew Day Jackson, Joshua Jefferson, Chantal Joffe, Jordan Kasey, Hoda Kashiha, Shay Kun, Friedrich Kunath, Owen Kydd, Kelly Lamb, Jonathan Lux, Tala Madani, Robert Mapplethorpe, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Max Maslansky, Tony Matelli, Simon Mathers, Patrick McElnea, John Millei, Marilyn Minter, Theo Mercier, JoshuaNathanson, Sarah Petersen, Vernon Price, Tal R, Christopher Reynolds, Holly Rockwell, Alexander Ruthner, Lionel Sabatte, Stuart Sandford, Yves Scherer, Max Hooper Schneider, David Benjamin Sherry, Kim Simonsson, Peter Stichbury, Claire Tabouret, Johan Tahon, Mateo Tannatt, Kenneth Tam, Ed Templeton, Kristian Touborg,Nick van Woert, Mark Verabioff, Matt Wedel, Bernhard Willhelm,Jessica Williams, Bradley Wood, and Alexander Yulish.
The exhibition is located at 2231 S. Western Ave. in Los Angeles, and is open Friday through Sunday from 11-6 through November 30th.
A TOUR OF #THEHOSPITAL