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Minimalism, a word Palestine hates, was part of his work in recorded music, video and event drawings in the 1970s but it certainly doesn’t apply now. He says he’s been fighting Minimalism for at least the past 20 years.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

Little can prepare you for the jazzily titled CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE·AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY, his current show at 356 S. Mission where a former warehouse is stuffed full of stuffed animals. They are arranged on wall panels to divide the huge gallery, lie along the edges of the floor and are suspended from rafters. Their little button eyes stare, their stitched mouths smile, their rounded, happy bodies invite cuddling.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

Like me, you may walk around the space trying to take it all in, including the hanging bathtubs full of creatures, a grand piano with plushy ponies, ducks and bears wedged under the lid, mirrored disco balls hanging from the ceiling and strips of colored cloth dangling here and there. Some of the tiny beings hang from multi-colored parachutes. Then you see the boats. Hanging from the ceiling, wooden boats are overfilled with the teddys, dollies, minions and unicorns, some tumbling over the sides. Small coffins lean here and there also filled with the stuffed animals.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

You realize that you are witnessing a condition analagous to that of thousands of refugees, innocent and helpless beings, cast off in a careless world.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

The windows of the gallery are painted in colors lending the aura of a chapel while a circle of video monitors, not flatscreens, on fabric draped pedestals display videos of the artist singing and playing his own mesmerizing compositions. The entirety coalesces as a fantastic temple for these adorable creatures who have been abandoned. The artist literally adopted them, asking volunteers to seek out unwanted toys, or orphans, as he calls them. He was given 18,000, many discarded by the companies who made them because no one had bought them. They are toys who were never touched by children.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

Palestine says it was never his intention to make installations that mirror what is going on in the world but he admits that that is the effect. Such indirect address allows each viewer to be empowered by realizations more visceral than what is conveyed in any news feed.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

Born in Brooklyn as Chaim Palestine, the artist studied sacred Jewish music as a youth in the 1950s. Now living in Brussels, last year he returned to New York to create“Bear Mitzvah in Meshagaland” at the Jewish Museum. He is known for performing with experimental filmmakers and composers since 1970 including Morton Subotnick at Cal Arts, where Palestine also taught.


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

For decades, Palestine has worked with stuffed animals, his “divinities,” as objects of received meaning, though their function changes with the times. In an enlightening interview on the 356 website, Palestine says,“All these orphan animals that have now been created into some kind of sacred temple. This is how I have constantly worked since the beginning – transforming these cheap materials into a sacred concept….A kind of sacred without a special name. It has a little bit of Buddhism, a little bit of Hindu, a little bit Catholic, a little bit Jewish, a little bit Muslim, a little bit of everything. At the same time it is none of those, it is in some kind of free form sacred state.”


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

What results is one of the most exceptional large scale installations within my memory, all the more potent for its humble materials and relative lack of institutional support. It is on through April 15


Charlemagne Palestine "CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY” at 356 S. Mission Road. January 25 - April 15, 2018. Courtesy of the Artist and 356 S. Mission Road, Los AngelesPhoto: Brica Wilcox. 

A longtime collaborator and friend of Palestine is dancer, choreographer and performance artist, Simone Forti. It was Forti who gave Palestine his first stuffed animal, a monkey, named Pepperoni, which inspired so much of his subsequent art.


Simone Forti. Huddle. 1975-1978. 200º Multiplex Hologram. 56.75 x 20 x 20 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and The Box, Los Angeles. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

A series of holograms that she had made of dancing figures in the mid-1970s was recently discovered. Titled Time Smear, they are presented at the downtown gallery The Box for the first time since they were shown at Sonnabend Gallery in 1978. The lithe figures on curved sheets of transparent plastic move and change color as you walk around and see them from different angles. The old friends performed together earlier this month. Simply seeing their work in proximity recalls an era in contemporary art when everything seemed possible. On view through March 24.

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