ON AIR
00:00:00 | 3:02:50

DONATE!

close

FROM THIS EPISODE

AVR5-HunterDP.jpg
Installation view of "Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance,"
at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Step across the threshold of Geffen Contemporary and an employee will issue a warning about the potential risks of wandering in stygian darkness and tripping over chunks of rock. For his exhibition The Theater of Disappearance, Adrián Villar Rojas demanded and received permission to alter the huge warehouse to suit his Blade Runner-like dystopian vision.

AVR2-MichelZabe.jpg
Installation view of "Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance,"
at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Image courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Photo by Michel Zabe

Lofty, purpose-built exhibition walls are painted deep ultramarine blue, appropriately named since the strategic lighting design contributes to the atmosphere of being 20 leagues under the sea. The floor is covered with a gritty dirt that crunches underfoot and is interspersed with boulders of two to four feet in height. Towering rectangular pillars are composed of layers of sediment as though developed over centuries of geological time. Navigation through this dim atmosphere is facilitated by the watery light emitted from big metal and glass vitrines containing detritus: dried plants, bones, dead fish. At best, these cabinets of curiosities add to the mysterious excitement of wandering around a lost civilization; at worst, they appear trite, especially those that include carcasses of raw meat. (Damien Hirst, anyone?)

AVR3-MichelZabe.jpg
Installation view of "Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance,"
at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Image courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Photo by Michel Zabe

The 37-year-old Argentinian artist is well known for his interventions within cultural institutions. Like LA's Conceptual art pioneer Michael Asher, and many other artists practicing what is known as "institutional critique" since the 1960s, Villar Rojas challenges implicit politics and predetermined notions about the making and exhibiting of art. He is determinedly nomadic, traveling from place to place to study and react against their present and past conditions.

AVR1-MichelZabe.jpg
Installation view of "Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance,"
at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Image courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Photo by Michel Zabe

His show at the Geffen is a site-specific excavation, drawing from materials pertaining to the history and culture of MOCA. He looked as well to this area's uniquely extensive resource of Hollywood production designers. The reference to "theater" in the show's title is intentional: the show only exists in this format for a specific period of time and, like theater itself, never can be duplicated exactly. It is designed for maximum dramatic impact.

AVR4-HunterDP.jpg
Installation view of "Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance,"
at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Photo by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

There are quite a few artists in their 30s and 40s who operate within this wrinkle of the large rumpled garment of contemporary art. MOCA literature cites Villar Rojas's attempt to address a "post human" condition. This may allude to the dismal future expressed in this show. Yet, the effort itself speaks to the all-too-human desire to make sense of an abruptly shifting and incomprehensible sense of history. Organized by curator Helen Molesworth and Brian Barcena, the show does have something of an historically-long run: It continues to May 13, 2018.

Subscribe to the Art Talk newsletter

Edward Goldman's take on what’s worth a visit in LA and sometimes beyond.

 

More From Art Talk

LATEST BLOG POSTS

Upcoming

View Schedule

New Episodes

Events

View All Events

iTUNES SPOTIFY
AMAZON RDIO
FACEBOOK TWITTER

Player Embed Code

COPY EMBED