By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Some of the criticism around town has been less . . . constructive. "We're an alternative gallery. We want to provide an alternative," observed one artist-gallerist on the condition of anonymity. "Besides, this Absolut International thing is seriously fucked. Did you see the loot bag they gave away at the opening? A packet of Altoid mints and a complimentary copy of Gallery Guide in a paper sack from Barney's? Last time, they at least had vodka-bottle key chains and cloth totes. And the 'buffet dinner' was vacuumed up in 20 minutes. It's a dog-and-pony show on its last legs, man." More subtle digs were contained in LACE's pointed serving of Bombay Sapphire gin martinis at the opening of its Tri-Annuale Part I opening, as well as in the scheduling of "Sig-alert 2," a museum exhibition at Cal State Fullerton amounting to a virtual who's who of the L.A. alternative gallery scene, to coincide with the International.
In spite of the obvious issues, it's hard to get a handle on why the Absolut International has failed to catch fire. The globalization of the art world is real and palpable. Los Angeles has benefited more from its increased ties with Europe, Asia and South America than from any other single factor in its recent history. New York would never have gotten enthralled with "L.A. art" if Europe hadn't gotten there first, and the reciprocity of the Absolut Biennial has led to a major influx of young or overlooked L.A. artists at the alternative-space level overseas, and at the very least influenced the possibility for museum shows like "Sunshine & Noir." The work that turns up for the International isn't worse than what you find in Los Angeles at any given moment; in fact, it's almost indistinguishable. The problem may lie with the failure of organizers to come up with a structure for these art-fair events that matches the sprawling, disconnected mosaic members of the L.A. art community navigate every day. We gave the Convention Center model a chance, we tried the hotel-room routine, and the Absolut International has gotten more than a fair shake. But in spite of its attempt at nonhierarchical restructuring, the ALAIBAI seems unable to strike the right chord. Nice try, though. And thanks for all the martinis.
ABSOLUT L.A. INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL ART INVITATIONAL
200 artists l Over 60 galleries l Citywide l Through August 21