On the final night, a large crowd gathered to view the documentation of that event, and a screening of The BLVD (1999), Deborah Stratman’s gorgeous experimental documentary about Chicago street racing. There’s a certain animosity to aestheticism in art that questions its own social function, a desire to strip away distracting or seductive decoration and get to the point. A lot of the raggedy-ass scrapheaps in "Construction Site" smacked of that bias, but Stratman’s film made it clear that beauty and sociopolitical engagements are not mutually exclusive domains. Exhausted and still lacking any conclusive delineation of the exact meaning of the work (or criteria for success or failure), the TS team deconstructed the site and headed home to Chicago.
Los Angeles is a strange place to try to explore concepts of community. Olafur Eliasson and Temporary Services have each addressed — in diametrically different political though formally related ways — the peculiar discontinuity of L.A.’s social structure. Eliasson offers withdrawal into highly controlled contemplative introspection while TS advocates active improvisational engagement with populations normally left out of the art-world equation. In spite of the danger of art disappearing up its own asshole, or dissolving into the same undifferentiated mess of mass culture, we’re lucky the discussion is happening at all.
OLAFUR ELIASSON: MEANT TO BE LIVED IN | 1472 Inverness Dr., Pasadena | Thursday–Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. | Through May 31