Milan Gallery Imports L.A. Art Scene for Angeleno-Only “Set Pieces” Exhibition

Courtesy of Cardi Black Box
Installation view of “Set Pieces” at Cardi Black Box
by Yasmine Mohseni
Published: February 20, 2013

This month, Milan gallery Cardi Black Box brings Los Angeles to Italy with the exhibition “Set Pieces” (February 8 through April 15). Gallery owner Nicolo Cardi invited L.A.-based curators Andrew Berardini and Lauren Mackler to create a show reflecting their city’s contemporary arts landscape, through both new and existing work by emerging and established artists. And while most of the artists included have exhibited internationally, “Set Pieces” stands out in its ambition to assemble a show abroad with only L.A.-based artists, under the direction of two Angelenos.

The fact that the city is being represented in this way underscores the increasingly broad appeal of its arts scene. Cardi has been following L.A. artists for several years, and represents a few leading talents such as Marnie WeberMario Ybarra Jr., and Mark Flores; considering it a new and important center for fresh and energetic contemporary art, he felt strongly that it was time to showcase it in his own community. ARTINFO Los Angeles’s Yasmine Mohseni spoke to Andrew Berardini and Lauren Mackler about their latest collaboration.

What was your curatorial approach with “Set Pieces”?

Andrew Berardini: When Nicolo invited me to curate an exhibition on Los Angeles, I thought this would be a great project to do with Lauren [Mackler, founder of the experimental art space Public Fiction]. We wanted to do something that wasn’t just about new art from L.A., but a show that had more poetry and depth. In our research, both Lauren and I have thought a lot about fiction and its relationship to reality, in particular in Los Angeles. In many ways, we are inspired by William Leavitt, whose work often uses plays and their stages to reveal the mundane theatricality of the city. He told us once that his plays were elaborate frames for his paintings. We invited four artists to build individual sets for which their work will serve as installations to host other artists’ work as well as their own. We didn’t want to dictate too much what the set would be; each set emerged in its own way from each artist.

How were the individual sets conceived of within the gallery space?

AB: The installations are dark and theatrically lit, which is the idea behind the exhibition. Sarah Cain was one of the first artists we invited. Samara Golden, whose work has a lot to do with melancholic inter-dimensional realities, made a room with a series of pedestals which, along with the floors and walls, are composed entirely of cloth dipped in a gluey material that makes it hard, resembling marble. Inspired by fantastical French films, it feels like some otherworldly, darkened, supernatural story is going to take place in that space. She also worked with Erik Frydenborg and other artists to make objects for each plinth.

And the other two artists?

Lauren Mackler: Mateo Tannatt and Liz Glynn have different approaches than the others: they’re more conceptual and based in research. Mateo worked on a re-creation of his studio – he calls it a re-creation, but it’s abstract and has more poetry to it. Liz worked on an anatomical theatre, a fictional set with platforms work . Both of those ideas are in line with their individual practices. Mateo’s work always has this architectural element, of taking pieces of furniture out of a room and recasting furniture into non-functional sculpture.

As Angelenos, what does it mean to you to curate a show of L.A. artists in Milan?

LM: I moved to Los Angeles three years ago and immediately fell in love with it as a platform for making ideas happen. What I’ve been doing with Public Fiction is to connect Europe and L.A. — it feels very natural to take this work there and bring that work here. This is the second show Andrew and I have done together in Italy; we collaborated on a show at Artessima in Turin last fall. There’s an interest in Italy and L.A. in poetic ideas being translated in a rich visual aesthetic. The poetry of aesthetics is very similar between the two cities.

To see images from the show, click on the slideshow. 

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