Final Projects: Group XXXIX

  • Residency Show

1137 S Cochran Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

An exhibition by the MAK Center’s Artists and Architects-in-Residence.

Berlin-based collaborators Eric Bell and Kristoffer Frick focused on how the pursuit of comfort is a key part of the psychological experience of the built environment, emphasizing air, ventilation and climate-controlled environments. From early L.A. modernists’ enhancing the experience of nature to the central air-conditioning of suburban sprawl, the effort that usually goes into the perfection of Los Angeles’s so-called “perfect” weather, the psychotherapeutic tendency, makes for rich study.

Thinking about the increasingly extreme environmental conditions in Southern California, Bell and Frick exhibited work made together with L.A.-based artist Nate Hess incorporating 3D scans of succulents. For the artists, these works, produced as high-definition computer renderings, represent ideas of adaptation and can be seen as an aesthetic reflection on their surroundings.

Since day one of their residency, Vienna-based architects Elisabeth Haid and Josef Schröck studied how the position of the L.A. River has been distinctly related to the city’s image of itself throughout its development history. In order to ask for themselves how forthcoming changes in that self-image might manifest as ecological, infrastructural, and land usage changes around the river, they first needed to know what was already there—and what they’ve found was enough to make them question the average Angeleno’s understanding of the river’s current conditions and historical position. From an equestrian tradition to gated suburbs to informal residential set-ups to industrial zoning anomalies like the city of Vernon, the river of today is a lengthwise city in itself, one that Haid and Schröck believe should be comprehended as a dynamic whole hosting many more options for engagement than just crossing it or following it along the freeway. 

Visitors to Final Projects had the opportunity to explore their own impressions of the river’s psychogeography via an interactive media installation installed in the Garage Top.

Brussels-based architects Bernhard Luthringshausen and Evelyn Temmel used questions of private space and visibility to analyze the venerated and vilified backyards of single-family properties in Los Angeles County. Through historical context, the backyard was examined through its communities and habits, and its visible-hidden binary was deconstructed through one of the more unique vernacular exploration methods in L.A.: the real estate agency open house. Staged and presented for the public, real estate agents will host an open house, where any interested person can come in off the street, take a look around, and talk with agents about the details and amenities of the lot and structure. As the entire event is a sales pitch, features of the house and property are often amplified and celebrated to the point of ideology, thus providing an occasion to see first-hand the motivations and myths that sustain those who defend the phenomenon as an inherent part of American life in places like Southern California.

The Final Projects exhibition then featured a survey of visual and promotional materials collected through their visits to open houses around the city, a responsive installation, and texts examining the role of the backyard in the local ethos.

The premises for an exhibition presentation are of special concern in the work of Berlin-based artist Mirjam Thomann. The circumstances she encounters on the path to a new project or a new piece become part of the work and are newly configured, arranged, staged, and supplemented. What is at hand then is therefore used as an impetus, as material, as a space and as terrain. For Final Projects Thomann’s work interacted directly with unit #3 of the Mackey Apartments, where she lived and worked during the 6 months of her residency. The windows of the apartment—visible from the street, the entrance to the backyard, and from the backyard/Garage Top—were altered to reference the window splashes one finds on commercial storefronts all across Los Angeles.

Image: Designed by Church of Type, Santa Monica.