This group show takes it title from the predictive Dead Kennedys song about government and big business creating war to make money and kill the American youth. Included are well-selected works by such greats as Raymond Pettibon, Chris Johnason, Jo Jackson and Barry McGee, but it is refreshing to see art by some newcomers that speaks so eloquently to the sad state of current affairs. One example is recent Cal Arts graduate Saul Alvarez’s photo of a boy wearing a sandwich board that reads “But I’ll Have No Part of Your End of the World” while standing on a hilltop looking out at a beautifully apocalyptic sky. If only there were more kids rising up with something to say, and we didn’t have to constantly refer to the Reagan era for inspiration.
Pieter Hugo’s Looking Aside at Stephen Cohen GalleryYou have probably seen Hugo’s haunting image of an albino teen that was the invitation and poster image for Photo L.A. last week. The South African photographer creates photo essays that speak to global, social and political issues and his home country: mass graves of the Rwandan genocide, Ghanaian judges, or traditional healers in trance. In Looking Aside, it seems the goal is to ask us to confront head-on those people we usually only steal sideways glances at. Certainly this is not a new concept in photography, but Hugo’s choice to include the elderly with the blind and people with albinism is surprising. In our youth-obsessed country, grandparents have become social outcasts. It is their portraits that captured my interest, their stories that I wanted to hear, and their faces that are utterly beautiful and compelling in Hugo’s work, shot against a stark, white backdrop.