Ceci Moss’ Mobile Art Gallery, Gas
By Genie Davis
When Ceci Moss decided to pursue a gallery model, she chose one that she says would guarantee the most amount of independence and experimentation despite limited resources. The result was Gas, which she describes as “a mobile, autonomous, experimental and networked platform for contemporary art. While all of these descriptive terms are important, key is ‘autonomous’ and ‘experimental.’ I felt it would make the most sense to set up an exhibition venue that exists both online and in a converted truck gallery,” Moss relates.
She began creating exhibitions in her mobile space in 2017, after purchasing the truck from an Austin-based gallerist named Karen, who had previously used the vehicle for exhibitions.
“Our first show Fuck the Patriarchy opened in Fall 2017. Karen did most of the major build out, and I made some updates in terms of lighting and paint. She really wanted it to continue as an art space, and she was thrilled that I could that in LA,” Moss explains.
Before Moss moved to the Los Angeles area, she worked for over a decade at non-profit arts organizations in New York and San Francisco, including the New Museum, Rhizome, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Moss’s work entailed a wide range of curatorial, editorial and fundraising, all of which have served her in good stead with Gas.
According to Moss, “Gas is the first non-profit arts organization I’ve started from scratch, and it’s been incredibly rewarding so far.”
The exhibitions she mounts go hand in hand with publishing a free zine that features thematically related artists’ writing, interviews, fiction, poetry and more. She calls them a “fun takeaway for visitors” that she hopes to compile into a single book publication in the future.
Moss was inspired to create her movable pop-up art feast in part by spending a great deal of time in DIY art and music spaces. “I’ve inhabited activist, feminist, queer and punk communities from an early age. I carry the egalitarian and utopian ethos of those arenas with me, and their politics inform my approach,” she notes.
She prioritizes parking the gallery at artist-centered or artist-run spaces. “We’ve been really lucky to park the gallery truck all around LA, from the San Fernando Valley to El Sereno. So far, I’ve been able to park at Night Gallery, The Pit, BBQ LA, The Getty, Steve Turner, Days, HILDE, Big Pictures Los Angeles, NowSpace, OPAF, LAVA Projects, the SFV Art Book Fair, gallery ALSO, and the Edendale Branch Library, who have partnered with us on a few pop-ups.”
She adds that she’s always looking for more places to park, and people to work with, “in case anyone reading this would like me to do a pop-up at their venue or event.”
She hopes that others will not only be interested in working with her, but that ultimately they’ll will look at what she is doing and be inspired to start their own spaces and projects. “I am continually in awe of the number of independent artist- run spaces and places in LA, and I want to see more, especially those that are run by and/or support the work of women, queers, and people of color,” she stresses.
The gallery’s current exhibition Anatomy of Oil, explores oil production around Los Angeles. Describing the gallery as “An object that is itself an invention of oil dependence,” her plan for the duration of the exhibit is that Gas’s converted delivery-truck gallery will park at active and former oil extraction sites around Los Angeles in addition to art spaces, to encourage an ongoing conversation about the the oil industry on all levels.
The exhibition is named after a poem by Marcella Durand that examines a variety of issues surrounding the oil industry through an eco-feminist lens.
“Anatomy of Oil includes sculpture, drawing, painting, and video in the gallery truck, and a browser plug-in available for download at the gallery’s website, as well as a series of site-specific performances and a reading group. One theme in Durand’s poem is a ceaseless, roaming hunger for oil, and the destructive path that follows each discovery. Coinciding with this violence—realized in the form of environmental damage, the displacement of populations, pollution, etc.—is the routine presence of oil in most aspects of modern life,” Moss asserts.
The show includes work by Susanna Battin, Kate Kendall, LA Transcendental Listenings (David Horvitz and Asha Bukojemsky), Michael Mandiberg, Nina Sarnelle, Molly Tierney, and Elia Vargas; works focus on the effects of petro-capitalism on everyday lived reality,” Moss states.
Running through November 24th, the exhibition includes a limited-edition water bottle created by Battin and Kendall, available during the run for just $10; as well as the zine accompanying this exhibit, which includes an interview with Matthew Huber, the author of the book Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital. The free zine as well as the water bottle will be available both on-site and online at http://www.Gas.gallery/editions. Additionally, Mandiberg’s work “Oil Standard” will also be available for download.
The insatiable hunger for and destruction caused by oil is expressed in Durand’s poem as well as in the works on exhibit, such as Molly Tierney’s “Untitled,” a canvas collaboratively stained with oil-based household products; and Nina Sarnelle’s video and sculptural installation “Sound for the long hole,” which examines a hidden oil drilling site on Washington Blvd. through performance, video, and sculptural installation.
Eli Vargas’ sculptural work, “Oil Rituals for the future #6,” looks at oil itself as a substance, using paraffin wax which is petroleum-derived. The sculptures are designed to melt at varied heat conditions within the truck gallery.
This provocative exhibition will be followed by a series of equally prescient solo shows hosted throughout 2019. Featured artists will examine world-building, science fiction, and utopian possibilities in their work which Moss says will “imagine alternatives, provide hope, and build community.” She adds that due to heightened awareness of the current political climate, and the fear and instability fomented, “the Gas exhibition program in 2019 aims to empower resistance in the present and look towards a more equitable future.”
Set to open in Spring 2019, the first exhibition in this series will be organized by the Institute of Queer Ecology. That exhibition will feature the multi-format publication Towards a Common Survival that includes texts, zines, screen prints, photographs, sculptural objects, poems, video, audio recordings and “other hybridized modes of research display,” Moss says.
In short: Gas is poised to accelerate LA’s art scene.