Hammer Museum's 'Made in L.A.: Acts of Living' comes to vivid life
Themes of identity, family, tradition and liberation permeate the galleries of the Hammer Museum at UCLA. The museum’s prestigious biennale Made in L.A.--this year titled Acts of Living came to vivid life October 1, with a series of tours, performances and celebrations.
Highlighting artists from and practicing throughout the greater Los Angeles area, Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living features works from 39 intergenerational artists and groups, whose practices embrace craft, materiality, and collectivity. Organized by independent curator Diana Nawi and Hammer curator Pablo José Ramírez with Luce Curatorial Fellow Ashton Cooper, the exhibition is on view through December 31, 2023.
One of the most important roles a museum has is to be a point of access, for ideas, for inspiration and for communication, said Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum.
Dozens of public programs that span creative workshops, talks with artists whose works are on display and performance art in the gallery spaces offer a multitude of access points to the exhibition. And the Hammer has created a series of videos on view in the Billy Wilder Theater that tell deeper stories of the practices from a selection of artists who are part of Acts of Living.
Curators made nearly 200 visits to artist studios from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach to the outer edges of Palm Springs, Ramirez said.
“Being in dialogue with artists in their studios and homes, and all over the city, gave us a richer appreciation for the way that artists address and transform experiences, ideas, and material surroundings drawn from everyday life,” he said.
The exhibition encompasses sculpture, assemblage, painting, drawing, ceramics, performance, and installation. Its title is derived from a statement by the late Noah Purifoy (1917–2004) inscribed on a plaque at the Watts Towers: “One does not have to be a visual artist to utilize creative potential. Creativity can be an act of living, a way of life, and a formula for doing the right thing.”
Nawi emphasized that the scope and intention of Acts of Living is reflective of a paradigm shift in artmaking and curating, thinking about how an individual’s subjective place in the world plays a major influence on their artistic practices.
“So this idea of ‘acts of living’ was really important for us,” she said. “Thinking about life and also thinking about the idea of affirming one's existence to make art is to say, I am here. We were here. It's a mark. It's a mark against time. And I think in this moment, socially, is the mark of resisting a kind of political will to silence and towards omission.”
By Jessica Wolf
October 2, 2023
Installation images by Ashley Kruythoff