Lauren Halsey Installation at MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

 

DAVID KORDANSKY GALLERY announced its representation of artist Lauren Halsey yesterday, describing her as “one of the most important new voices to emerge from Los Angeles.” Earlier this year, Halsey presented a site-specific installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), participated in Made in L.A. 2018 at the Hammer Museum, and won the biennial’s $100,000 Mohn Award.

Halsey works at the intersection of art, architecture, fantasy and community engagement. Her artworks, immersive installations, and site-specific projects pay homage to the people and places that are important to her and address the social justice issues with which people of color, the queer community, and the working class are particularly concerned.

“Combining found, fabricated, and handmade objects, Halsey’s work appears in a variety of modes but always maintains a sense of civic urgency and free-flowing imagination…” the gallery said.

“Critiques of gentrification and disenfranchisement are accompanied by real-world, actionable proposals as well as irreverent celebration of on-the-ground aesthetics. Inspired by Afrofuturism, fantasy architecture, and funk, as well as the signs, symbols, and spaces that populate her local environments, Halsey creates a visionary form of culture that is at once radical and collaborative.”

“Lauren Halsey’s work appears in a variety of modes but always maintains a sense of civic urgency and free-flowing imagination…”

AFTER EARNING HER BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2012, Halsey completed her MFA at Yale University (2014). She was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2014-15) and won The William H. Johnson Prize in 2017. She lives and works in Los Angeles, where she was born and raised and has found support and recognition for her work.

Since the 1950s, generations of Halsey’s family have resided in the South Central region of the city, which figures prominently in her practice. “I love it. It’s beautiful. It’s complicated,” she has said.

At MOCA Grand Avenue, Halsey created an immersive installation, composed of intertwining caves framed with free-form architecture. Rugs featuring animal prints, Ankh symbols, and a black panther lined the floor and a series of objects and vignettes were placed throughout the environment, which served “as a visionary archive reflecting the diversity of everyday black cultural experiences.”

Titled “we still here, there,” it was her first solo museum exhibition. Halsey continued to work on the MOCA installation throughout its run, changing and transforming it. She likened it to a “maximalist South Central paradise.”

 


For her Made in L.A. project, Lauren Halsey “inscribed every panel on the main structure with signifiers of her community and neighborhood of South Central. These inscriptions feature a range of images, including local storefront signage, portraits of family and friends, lowriders, tags, and local landmarks.” Shown, Installation view of LAUREN HALSEY, “The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture),” 2018, Made in L.A. 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. | Photo by Brian Forrest, Courtesy of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

 


Installation view of LAUREN HALSEY, “The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype
Architecture),” 2018, Made in L.A. 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. | Photo by Brian Forrest, Courtesy of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

 

For Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, Halsey designed a sculptural installation that serves as a prototype for “The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project,” which she plans to realize in 2020 in a public space in the South Central neighborhood. When she was a child, an African bazaar she used to frequent was housed in the building.

Crenshaw is experiencing a cultural shift as new development and new residents reshape the neighborhood and its economy. Halsey envisions creating a functional space that celebrates and documents Crenshaw and speaks to its future and, at the same time, serves as a gathering place for public events. The project won her the Mohn Award.

Thomas J. Lax, associate curator of Media and Performance Art at the Museum of Modern Art was a member of the jury that selected Halsey for the prize. He said her work sets her apart because it is deeply rooted in family and community.

“The spaces Lauren Halsey invites us into are fantastically futuristic and historically rooted celebrations of the real life experiences of her friends, family, and neighbors who stay in the iconic neighborhood of South Central L.A., where she grew up and still works,” Lax said in a statement about the award.

“Lauren’s installations are prompts for people to come together, both in the space of the museum where she observes, mourns, and celebrates the friends and neighbors who come in and out of the work, and in the middle of the city where daily life sustains this historic community.”

DAVID KORDANSKY WAS FOUNDED in 2003. In addition to Halsey, the gallery’s roster includes nearly 40 artists, Fred Eversley, Sam Gilliam, and Rashid Johnson, among them.

Kordansky recently announced plans for expansion, but rather than establishing a presence in another city, it is deepening its commitment to Los Angeles. The gallery is increasing its interior footprint with more than 6,500 square feet of exhibition and storage space, and adding a 3,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard.

“Artists want to see their gallery put their money where their mouth is,” Kordansky told artnet News. “They want to see the gallerist invest in the future of the gallery. They want to develop a complementary career trajectory that will hopefully last a lifetime.”

Halsey’s first exhibition with the gallery has yet to be scheduled. CT

 

TOP IMAGES: Installation view of “Lauren Halsey: we still here, there,” 2018, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. | Photo by Zak Kelley, Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; Lauren Halsey standing before the Watts Towers. | Photo by Rafael Hernandez

 

CORRECTION: An error regarding the expansion of David Kordansky Gallery was corrected. The gallery is adding more than 6,500 square feet of interior space, in addition to a substantial outdoor patio space. An increase of 7,000 square feet was initially cited.

 

FIND MORE about Lauren Halsey on her website

 

BOOKSHELF
In addition to the cash prize, Lauren Halsey’s Mohn Award includes a forthcoming monograph produced by the Hammer Museum. A diverse slate of artists working in a range of mediums is featured in “Made in L.A. 2018.” The catalog for the Hammer Museum’s latest biennial, explores the work of each artist (Lauren Halsey among them) and includes a roundtable conversation led by curators Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale about the evolving landscape of cultural institutions and artistic communities in Los Angeles.

 


Artist Lauren Halsey talks to MOCA curator Lanka Tattersall about her exhibition “we still here, there.” The artist calls the immersive installation a “maximalist South Central paradise.” | Video by MOCA

 

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