Public Fiction: The Conscientious Objector

  • Exhibition

835 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Curated by Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey and Lauren Mackler

Public Fiction’s The Conscientious Objector was a multifaceted endeavor that unfurled in parts from February to April 2018. It comprised a publication, a series of artist-made commercials for television, an exhibition of artworks activated by performances, and public programs.

To be an object, is to object1

Set in West Hollywood, The Conscientious Objector considered how art and culture can establish acts of resilience through ‘non-participation’ and elliptical routes, in contrast to more blatantly socio-political forms of resistance, as well as the ways in which they might use the tropes and platforms of entertainment, advertising and mass culture to reach its audiences. That is, without making any assumptions about who these audiences were.

The overall project was an exploration of different modes or degrees of ‘public address’ – most obviously through a live confrontation with actors in the exhibition, at a step removed via TV commercials, more obliquely via individual artworks, and in the longer term through the publication.

About the exhibition

The Conscientious Objector at the Schindler House presented new and existing works by Sam Gilliam, Anthea Hamilton, Lucy McKenzie, Dianna Molzan, and Suki Seokyeong Kang, plus a new durational performance delivered by professional actors and directed by Todd Gray. Each artist inhabited a different room of the Schindler House, which was progressively activated by a performance that employed the publication as script and prop.

About the commercials

The exhibition was initiated via a series of newly commissioned TV commercials by artists Mohamed Bourouissa, Rosalind Nashashibi, Mathias Poledna, and Martine Syms. Following a rich lineage of art and activism works produced for public access television, these commercials were aired on WeHoTV, the City of West Hollywood’s television station, as well as in museums, art institutions, cinemas, and online platforms.

About the publication

Edited by Public Fiction and The Serving Library (Liverpool/New York), and published by ROMA Publications (Amsterdam), it features new and republished work by Hilton Als, Tauba Auerbach, Claire-Louise Bennett, Octavia E. Butler, Anne Carson, Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Shannon Ebner, Chris Evans, Angie Keefer, Mark Leckey, Library Stack (Benjamin Tiven & Erik Wysocan), Marcos Lutyens, Wanda Pimentel, Adrian Piper, Jack Self (Real Review), Patrick Staff, Frances Stark & Ian Svenonius, and Martine Syms.

About the public program

February 8: Mohamed Bourouissa in conversation with Negar Azimi at the Schindler House.
March 22: Rosalind Nashashibi in conversation with Mathias Poledna at the Schindler House.
April 5: Anthea Hamilton in conversation with Todd Gray at the Schindler House.

The Conscientious Objector was commissioned by the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts Program with the support and collaboration of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Korea Foundation, The Serving Library, Arts Council England, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Karyn Kohl and Silas Dilworth, Dan Avchen, Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), kaufmann repetto, Galerie Buchholz, Kristina Kite Gallery, Blum&Poe, and David Kordansky Gallery.

About Public Fiction

Founded in 2010, Public Fiction is a project space and a journal based in Los Angeles. Its program presents a series of exhibitions on a theme, each theme lasting three months and culminating into a journal. Related talks, screenings, secret restaurants, and performances are held within the installations and around the topic at hand. Public Fiction’s program is intergenerational, interdisciplinary and treats the exhibition as a medium in itself. Public Fiction is currently nomadic, hosted by larger institutions, and in this mode, has staged exhibitions at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Artissima LIDO, Turin, Italy; and Frieze Projects, New York, amongst others. Facebook / Instagram

About The Serving Library

The Serving Library is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 to develop a shared toolkit for general arts education and discourse through related activities of publishing and collecting. It comprises an annual journal published simultaneously online and in print, a public program of events and workshops, and an archive of (mostly) framed objects on permanent display. The Serving Library currently resides at Exhibition Research Lab in the School of Art & Design, Liverpool John Moores University.

About City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts Program

The City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts program delivers a broad array of arts programs including: Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, WeHo Reads, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for nonprofit arts organizations, library exhibits and programming, the City Poet Laureate program, One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, and Urban Art Program (permanent public art).

1. This is us, paraphrasing an idea from Fred Moten’s In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, (University of Minnesota Press, 2003)-specifically the last chapter titled “Resistance of the Object: Adrian Piper’s Theatricality.”