Communities of color contribute to the diversity that characterizes Southern California and play an important role in a vibrant regional culture that is creative and evolving. Yet these communities are often disenfranchised, their stories for- gotten. In the newest edition of Pacific Standard Time launching in fall 2017, the Getty Foundation intends to shed light on artists, time periods and styles that might have gone unnoticed until now. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA draws a connection between Latin America and Los Angeles, asking viewers to consider how Southern California is tied to various cultures and communities based even farther south.
From September 2017 to January 2018, a series of exhibitions at several Los Angeles-area cultural institutions will highlight “a wide variety of important works of art, much of them new to Southern California audiences,” as the pro- gram’s website declares. The initiative includes a variety of shows, from film-re- lated archives to visual exhibits and concerts. Each organization has received a grant to organize its show.
The long list of institutions includes the Craft & Folk Art Museum, LAXART, Los Angeles Filmforum, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California, among many more.
At the UCLA Hammer Museum, curators have been hard at work organizing Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985, which will open September 15. Guest co-curator Andrea Giunta stresses that the show is, “the first exhibition including more than 100 Latin American and Latino/Chicana artists together.” It is also important to recognize the ways in which artists in this time period challenged the standard portrayal of women’s bodies in art. The female figure was often portrayed from a patriarchal point of view, but in these pieces women artists have full agency. The exhibit, therefore, serves as a way to preserve these stories and highlight important histories. Giunta said she sees the show’s potential to influence viewers in a far-reaching way.
“We wish that the public wants to know more, that art education sys- tems incorporate a universe of works that speak of different idiosyncrasies, differ- ent sensibilities, different skin colors, other ways of understanding the body, other cultural experiences,” said Giunta in an email to Fabrik. “To put it in simple words: we want to contribute to change in the world. The world of art in particu- lar, but also contribute to a transformation that is occurring in different scenarios and that is urgent. Violence against bodies classified as female is reproduced in the field of art with the symbolic violence of eliminating works and authorship. We want to help this situation end.”
Radical Women will feature artists from Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Cuba and Mexico as well as the U.S. and other countries. The connection is an important one: these women contributed to both the art scenes of their respective countries but also to contemporary art as a whole. Other exhibitions under the PST umbrella will focus more on local sights and visual language. Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs and Mark-Making in LA—on view at The Skirball Cultural Center from October 6, 2017 to February 25, 2018—will feature more than 100 photo- graphs of the city. The exhibit seeks to characterize the city through its own markings, the signs that citizens have left behind to tell their own stories.
“We hope that Angelenos see themselves and their communities in Surface Tension,” wrote Laura Mart, Assistant Curator, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA at the Skirball in an email to Fabrik. “Ken put a lot of miles on his car visiting neighborhoods from Pacoima to Venice Beach, to Watts to East LA to photograph more than 140 murals. We would like our visitors to leave the show with a greater appreciation for the art that surrounds them every day in their own neighborhoods, as well as an awareness of how these images impact their own thinking about the city and their place within it.”
Mart sees PST as an opportunity to spark a discussion about “the impor- tance of conversations and collaborations across borders.” These connections are significant and deserve to be explored. “The shows being presented at over seventy different venues this fall reflect the necessity of bringing in international perspectives and, above all, the importance of the arts in reflecting on place, history and identity.”
Through each exhibition, visitors will have a chance not only to learn about art, but also to gain insight about the prevailing socio-political climates that influence artists in their creativity. These are the stories of artists who have left behind legacies; the shows are threads weaving Los Angeles and Latin America together. They are just the beginning of the effort that is necessary to highlight a complex history in need of telling.
For more about PST, visit http://www.pacificstandardtime.org/en/about/