Profound? Yes. Sacred? No.
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I love LA for being an inexhaustible field of discovery for art, architecture, and music – not only in museums, galleries, and concert halls – but also in less expected venues...in numerous places of worship all over town. Last night I went to the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica for a concert by four young musicians who distinguished themselves at the annual 'Princess Christina Concours,' a music competition for young people in the Netherlands. All of them are under twenty; their artistic accomplishments far exceeding their age. I still can hear the rapturous sound of the clarinet sending the shimmering melody of Debussy into the air.
But it was another church that this month I visited not once, not twice, but three times, because I couldn't get enough of what it had to offer: the most eloquent sermon about life, death and resurrection delivered by the great German artist Anselm Kiefer. You might remember that recently, I devoted a special program to his two-part exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and at the First Baptist Church in Koreatown. I urged my listeners and friends not to miss the chance to experience his profound art, and I was glad to learn that many did just that. Now, I have great news: though both exhibitions were scheduled to close last weekend, the one at the church has been extended until Saturday, May 11th. Without the interest generated by this program, this two-week extension would not have been possible. If you haven't seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to go.
Let me assure you that in the last few weeks, besides all these visits to churches, I also found time to go to decidedly less holy institutions. At the Getty on Sunday, Michal Rovner, probably the best-known Israeli artist, delivered a lecture to a captivated audience, proving me wrong when I say that most artists should be seen, but not heard – the way Victorian England felt about children. Michal is known primarily as a video artist, and her work has been shown all over the world. In 2003, she represented Israel at the Venice Biennale.
At the Getty, she talked about her latest project, a large-scale stone structure she calls Makom, a Hebrew word meaning 'place.' Collecting stones from the remains of old Israeli and Palestinian houses in Jerusalem, Galilee, Nablus and Hebron, and employing a crew of Israeli and Palestinian masons, Michal Rovner – a quiet, tiny woman of fierce determination – builds imposing, impenetrable, severe structures weighing up to 60 tons. The impression one gets is of an ancient temple compressed and super-condensed into one of the most essential geometric forms, that of a cube. It exudes a sense of eternity and immovability, so it is fascinating to learn that the numbers on each stone are painted for a specific, practical reason. After the structure is meticulously put together, it can be disassembled, crated, sent across the world, and reassembled yet again, let's say in the gardens of a private estate in England or in the confines of a gallery in New York.
Tonight between 5:00 and 7:00pm, the public is invited for the opening of Michal Rovner's exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Bergamot Station, where she shows mostly video works. I had a sneak preview of it yesterday, and the oddly shaped, ancient-looking stones with videos of tiny moving figures projected onto them stopped me in my tracks. This is vintage Michal Rovner, a contemporary artist who makes stone speak, an artist whose visual language is inspired by the immortal scrolls of the Dead Sea.
Anselm Kiefer: Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday)
On view at the First Baptist Church Gym through May 11, 2008
760 South Westmoreland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Open Wed-Sun, noon-6pm only
The church is located at the corner of West 8th Street and Westmoreland Avenue in the heart of Los Angeles, two blocks south of Wilshire Boulevard and one block east of Vermont Avenue.
Michal Rovner "Makom"
Video and Paintings in the West and South Gallery
On view at Shoshana Wayne Gallery through June 14, 2008
Banner Image: Michal Rovner "Makom I" at Chatsworth in England; Makom I and Makom II images (c) Ardon Bar Hama