“S, M, L, XLA: An Exhibition of Spatial Interventions Reflecting on the Inquiry of Scale”
A+D Museum of Los Angeles
June 19, 2014- August 31, 2014
A+D Museum’s annual gala, (2014’s “Celebrate Groundswell,” covered in late June), raises funds for the organization’s rotation of exhibits—all dedicated, according to the mission, “to progressive architecture and design in Los Angeles.”
The museum’s current exhibit is “S M L XLA,” which, like the gala, features work drawn from the local area and is highly invested in exploring how the city and its multiple communities entangle to leave impressions on one another.
The museum’s small space is alive with action and interaction, as the artists encourage visitors to touch, draw, build, and alter the installations in collaboration with them. The exhibition lacks physical organization—there is no overt sense that pieces were placed in proximity to each other for critical reasons, but rather to meet their practical needs for wall hanging or sufficient floor space. Yet the pieces covered here connect by demanding that those who exit see the greater social implications and replications that exist beyond the threshold.
Matthew Rosenberg (M-RAD)’s “benchPRESS” is one such example. The vibrantly colored bench is composed of moveable tubing that shifts shape as visitors sit upon it, leaving behind their imprints. Rosenberg posits that the piece highlights “the decorative impulse […] of playfulness” while on a deeper level symbolizing urban spaces where “the public convene[s] [to] play, work, and leave their mark” on life. Notably, as a prototype for harnessing kinetic green energy from visitors’ movement, “benchPRESS” attempts to link form with future function. While A+D representative Abigail Lee notes the piece as a reminder of how “contributors are consistently focused on their work and who it effects,” questions also emerge about which groups of LA citizens the project values (given that the piece’s uncomfortable tubed seat discourages long-term sitting and lying).
“In Turn” large scale and detail] Focusing on playful movement related to craft, MSA’s “In Turn” shifts away from the traditional methods of chess piece carving in order to produce “a more complicated composition of ‘partial revolutions.’” Within the installation, viewers witness the stages of craftsmanship that go into a chess piece—from drawn conceptualization, to scale model, to board components. The result is a sculptural collection of objects, reminiscent of seashells, that have left a craftsmen’s hands to quietly await players’ animating fingers. The piece heightens awareness of human precision in creation and use within the game space, as well as urging viewers to compare on a larger scale the city’s architecture with the natural aesthetic of shells littering LA’s surrounding beaches.
Notably, not all pieces play on whimsical lighthearted interactions. “Open Door,” by FieldWork LA, forces viewers to consider LA’s relationship to past, present, and future LGBTQ rights. Pushing visitors into a literal closet, the installation assaults the senses with a red light illuminating black walls, white text, black and white images, a black and white film loop, and a first person audio reel related to past LGBTQ oppression. Creating a claustrophobia that only exiting out the door can relieve (in part), “Open Door” reminds visitors that equality remains a question today and beyond the museum’s own doors.
From small to large, “S M L XLA” provides meaningful engagement crammed into every space (the bathrooms included, thanks to the stylized graffiti by Los Angeles Art Collective). On the one hand, the overwhelming number of projects, many of which bear only small-print directions to touch, leave some visitors alienated, unsure of whether the museum invites contact or only tempts the violation of traditional etiquette. On the other hand, the exhibit acknowledges the diversity of LA, past, present, and future, through its array of media and range of scale among projects; and its intention of drawing visitors’s tactile interaction suggests that the city’s character grows from citizens’ creative interactions. Such a tension—between overt and intended, small and large, high and low—mirrors the city’s own complicated and multiple identities.
For more information, please visit: A+D Museum LA