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A midcentury modern house in Southern California is purchased for the sole purpose of destruction. An Alpine family vacation home is dismantled brick-by-brick by the daughter of the builder. City blocks crumble and spaces become debris. In one generation, fully-formed built environments are supplanted by others.
Exploring the lines between demolition, transformation, and extinction, this group exhibition—DEMO—engages four artists’ approaches to reckoning psychologically with the erasure of history that comes with the destruction of both iconic and vernacular architecture. In Southern California, where buildings are regularly thrown away and “touchstones of identity” can no longer be touched (in the words of critic Robert Bevan), how can artists move past well-tread memorializing tendencies to suggest new critical engagement with and resistance to this definitive contemporary force?
Four different records and results of four different spatial ruinations will be situated in the landmark R.M. Schindler Kings Road House: one in each studio, each suggesting that wrecking balls are not final acts. Tehran-based artist Nazgol Ansarinia works with the three-dimensional documents of bulldozer-induced change, as interior is forced to exterior. Innsbruck-based artist Margarethe Drexel prepares to disassemble a house in Austria and “inter” it within its own basement, repurposing the house underground as a mausoleum/terrace. Los Angeles-based artist and journalist Lexis-Olivier Ray captures the decisive moment when place is obliterated by real estate. Paris-based artist Yan Tomaszewski psychoanalyzes, through film and sculpture, the demolition of Richard Neutra’s 1962 Maslon House in Rancho Mirage, CA.
DEMO is co-curated by MAK Center director Priscilla Fraser and Anthony Carfello. A series of remote discussion programs will be run concurrent with the exhibition and feature urbanists, historians, and artists engaging with the notions of demolition highlighted within the show.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the MaddocksBrown Foundation, FORT:LA, Pasadena Art Alliance, Land Tirol, Green Art Gallery, and the City of West Hollywood.
Margarethe Drexel (born 1982, Austria) is a multi-disciplinary artist who currently lives and works between Los Angeles and a Tyrolean mountain village called Steeg. Known for site-specific installations in relation to performance, language, and (her) body, Drexel graduated from Otis College of Art and Design (L.A.) in 2016 with an MFA in Public Practice. Previously, she studied performance, digital art, and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, and Saar University of Arts, Saarbrücken, as well as philosophy and art history at Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck. Her work has been shown at Neue Galerie, Innsbruck; Biquini Wax EPS, Mexico City; El Vitrinazo/arte, Bogotá; Sin Espacio, Lugar a Dudas, Cali; 18th Street Arts Center, Chimento Contemporary, Last Projects, MaRS – Museum as Retail Space, Bolsky Gallery, Los Angeles; Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Funkhaus and Uferhallen, Berlin; Folkwang Museum, Essen; Semperdepot, Flat1, Fluc and Kunstverein Extra, Vienna; House of Cyprus and Snehta, Athens; Mediterranea 18, Tirana; Caochangdi Gallery, Beijing. Drexel has received the International Scholarship from Otis College, as well as research and project grants from the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna; the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria; Austrian Cultural Forum, Berlin; and the Cusanuswerk Bonn.
Nazgol Ansarinia (born 1979, Tehran) examines the systems and networks that underpin daily life, such as everyday objects, routines, events, and experiences, and the relationship they form with larger social contexts. Ansarinia’s practice reflects upon tensions between private worlds and the wider socioeconomic realm, and how local iterations of a culture might act as a site for the hopes and fears of those living in a (faltering) globalised world. Her recent projects—across sculpture, installation, drawing, and video—represent ways of understanding the role of architecture in delineating interior and exterior spaces and private and public spheres. Ansarinia graduated from the London College of Communication in 2001 before earning her MFA at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2003. Recent exhibitions include: The Room Becomes a Street, curated by Aram Moshayedi, Argo Factory, Tehran (2020; solo); Fragile Frontiers: Visions on Iran’s in/visible borders, YARAT Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan (2019); Revolution Begins at Home, with Architects Hamed Khosravi and Roozbeh Elias-Azar, Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Sharjah (2019); The Spark is You: Parasol Unit in Venice, curated by Ziba Ardalan, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Fragments, Particles and the Mechanisms of Growth, KIOSK, Ghent (2017; solo); Women House, Monnaie de Paris, Paris (2017); What We Know that We Don’t Know, KADIST, San Francisco, (2017); Planet 9, Kunsthalle Darmstadt (2017); Variable Dimensions, Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon (2017); The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?), Gwangju Biennale (2016); and Adventure of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015).
Lexis-Olivier Ray (born 1990, United States) is a multimedia journalist, filmmaker and artist currently based in Los Angeles focusing on housing, justice, cannabis, ghost towns, and California culture. In the past year he has created content for KCET, LAist, Curbed L.A., The LAnd magazine, Roadtrippers magazine, Invisible People, and Hyperallergic. Over the last decade, he has worked with AT&T, BBC, Getty Images, Vevo, and other brands to create documentaries, content, music videos, photographs, and other media. Ray is a regular contributor at the James Beard Foundation Award-winning publication, L.A. Taco, the city’s leading voice in independent journalism.
Yan Tomaszewski (born 1984, France) came to Los Angeles in 2017 as a laureate of the French Institute’s residency program, Hors les Murs. Tomaszewski’s research-based, yet visually seductive work ranges from sculpture to film and focuses on archetypes, psychoanalysis, and organicism. He graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2011 and his work has been exhibited at the Archeological Museum, Cracow; Air and Space Museum, Paris; Middelheim Museum, Antwerp; Asymetria Gallery, Warsaw; and Primo Piano, Paris. He has participated in group shows at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Le Fresnoy Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing; Daejeon Culture & Arts Foundation, Daejeon; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Hippocrène, Paris; and Manifesta 9, Genk. His films have screened in festivals such as the FID International Film Festival, Marseille; Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin; and Doclisboa, Lisbon. Tomaszewski’s work has been featured in numerous international publications including Le Quotidien de l’art, Los Angeles Times, H Art Magazine, and Artforum.