Saturday, November 8, 2008

Burn This

Is it me, or is it getting hot in here? Gary Simmons is a visual artist with a new show in West Hollywood featuring renditions of Los Angeles landmarks on fire: the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Hollywood sign, etc. Here's part of it:

Combine this with the last post about the film Burning Palms, which isn't a film about a fire or anything, but is titled to quickly connote Los Angeles, and it looks like we've got anther cliche on our hands: that Los Angeles is burning. Bad Religion certainly believe it is:

And Public Enemy would like it to be:

I mean, come on, Gary Simmons. These paintings do look kinda neat, made out of paint and wax, but is there really, truly a statement here or are you just dittoing yet another sad old Los Angeles cliche? The LA Times kindly points us to this Ed Ruscha painting, Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, from way back in 1968:

They also reference Day of the Locust and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which "inspired" the collection (okay, I admittedly haven't seen that one, but I'll trust that Los Angeles burns in it), so the Times isn't buying this as an original idea either. So what kind of person would be so fixated on hating Los Angeles to spend a significant portion of his life's work replicating a tired anti-LA trope/fantasy of destruction?

Gary Simmons lives and works in New York City. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1988 and went on to receive an MA from Cal Arts in 1990. The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York organized a mid-career survey in 2003 that traveled to the MCA, Chicago and Site Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2006, Simmons' work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Bohen Foundation, New York.

Oh, got it.

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