An image of people living on Manchester Ave., their homes constructed of cardboard, plastic tarps, and their own furniture huddles against the chain link fence separating it from LAX. Atop the image, a discarded fridge houses a nylon sleeping bag. Concrete forms cast from the city's refuse and recycling containers finish the composition.
Throughout the space are also Thomas Swinkels' cast blue forms. Taken from the stone hearths and foundations that remain of Llano del Rio, the long-abandoned commune east of Palmdale. In the context of the other work, the sculptures gesture toward an anti-statism and radical autonomy. Holding these sculptures like Swinkels' image from Manchester Ave. is a series of covers from The Western Comrade, the socialist magazine for L.A.'s 1910's.
West of Las Vegas, past Pahrump, the desert opens up. Here the sun grows its shadows over the ridge lines, putting back on show the brush that spangles the desert's valley. After a long haul through the some narrows, we start collecting the hairpins on our way up to Tecopa.
The desert isn't so brash its morning gently hangs its arm on your shoulder. However, it's what it whispers to you that really raises a brow. By day, the desert stretches me down into its absent seas and by night, catapulting me beyond the jets where Orion's set to fall into the ocean at the end of all this. Freedom and decimation. It's a natural arcade. Immense, brutal, careless.
And we mock it. Dotting it to and from the coast with our most spectacle altars to death. Casinos and outlet malls and golf courses – our rude theaters with their saccharine interiors – patterned carpets, window-dressing, and showmanship. Arcade living – from the most proper affairs down to our bitter perversions. We see the desert's natural spectacle, uninterrupted, and under a sodium glow, we endure these lived theaters as echo to it. The casinos and streets out in the desert can't last and the early losers are already on the ground.
The sleek slate fender of a luxury car welded onto a crude plinth stands upright in the space. Like any collision remnant left long enough along the freeway shoulder, Swinkels' found fender is folded onto itself. Like a readymade Chamberlain, its triple intake vents and the small stylish script 'Pininfarina' gives a clue towards its origin and demise.
Across the space, is Bas Van Den Hurk's series of paintings, stretched of pighide, cowhide, faux leather and silk, are smeared and dabbed with a palette that pulls at one's eyes. Bright magentas and deep sandstone. A motif's printed through them, an image of the early L.A. German-American Galka Scheyer before a work of Alexej von Jawlensky at the Schindler House. Like all of Van Der Hurk's works, there's something about how these paintings present themselves that they address not just painting as it's done today, but more so, a conflation of the 'culture of the arcades' and their associated trades that so defines spectacle here.
The sands fall away coming down the mountain, we snake and meet the 5. Shell to get gas. Rub my eyes, scrounge through my pockets, it's time to look at the possibilities and reconsider a few things. You want it all, but you won't get it until the end.
A series of new painted and sculptural works, Chicken n Waffles at aesthetic possibility and reconsideration. The works model seeing anew through the registers of subversion and radicality of class as they've played out on America's west coast.
The exhibition draws on, from the desert to Malibu, this juggernaut as a schizophrenic place, where the fringes of capitalism, its homeless, its jet-set, its ungovernable, pushes at the hard-boiled limits of capitalist representation.
The exhibition lays bare a distinction between heteronomy and autonomy that's easy to see in the American desert. Easy to see. A spectrum between the spectacle and the freely given. The uninterrupted, inalterable autonomy of deep time sliding against a feverish installation of showmanship, how we represent and negotiate with each other what nature's already presented. It's the edge that Chicken n Waffles directs its truck, where spectacle is mirrored.
- Marc LeBlanc