Art21 Los Angeles

People are affected by the places they live. Their mannerism, beliefs, what they hold to be important are all shaped by what is around them. In the video series ART21, season 8 explores the role that different cities have on artists. The 4th episode follows four artists from Los Angeles: Dana Thater an installation artist, Liz Larner a sculptor, Tala Manani a painter who creates illustrations and Edgar Arceneaux a performance and instillation artist. Although their work is incredibly different, it is interesting to see how they are all connected through their similar setting. Each artist is influenced by the city and people around them.

Diana Thater creates video installations about the domination of human on earth, and their negative effects on animals. She is able to make her instillations because of her ability to travel to see endangered animals. She films them and remakes her experience in galleries and museums, adding lighting and sound effects. These added elements convey her ideas about the uniqueness of the animals and their significance on earth. Thater’s work is influenced by the film production around her and her proximity to nature; the oceans and the mountains that surround LA.

Similarly Liz Larner is influenced by the natural features around her. Rather than animal life, her sculptures speaks about the earth and geological structures. She uses her art to study the spiritual connection of the earth and humans. Larner finds the spiritual connection to be significant, but often overlooked. She attempts to remind humans of their relationship to the earth round them.

Tala Manani also explores relationships, however she explores the relationships between humans. She explores the interaction of western cultures with non-western cultures. Her experience migrating from Iran to Los Angeles, makes the interactions more interesting. They provide an incite into a non-western perspective. Her work conveys the non-western men as child-like, vunerable, and subject to forces that attempt to control them. Her artistic expression puts into images, what people have difficulty understanding through words.

The final artist, Edgar Arceneaux, also deals with cultural discrimination in Los Angeles. His portfolio includes covering books in a rough crystal-like material so that they are illegible. His work also deals with taboo, and incomprehensible knowledge. Arceneaux feels like the history of racism in America needs to be dealt with, however it is often ignored. Coming from a black family and growing up in an impoverished part of Los Angeles, he has authority to deal with this subject. His work also deals with the film industry and performance, as reenacts black face productions. This becomes a powerful comment on the effects of the film industry on racism, exposing the message and the power contained in film.

Through the video Art21 Los Angeles, the viewer is able to see the interaction of the artist and the city. Within LA artists create remarkably different work that deals with a wide variety of ideas. While their work seems dissimilar, they are all connected through location. Their work expresses their city. Their lives are connected through similar landscapes, like the mountains and the oceans. The diverse interaction of people from different cultures, both western and non-western becomes a major theme of their work. The film industry also inspires the artists of Los Angeles. Each artist conveys ideas that are important to the city. As they give shape to the ideas of the city, the ideas of the city give shape to their art.

In Tala Madani’s Braided Beard, 2007, Tala painted two non-western men who are working to braid one man’s beard. The work is 36x 28 cm and is located at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

– Chloe Brown


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