Evidence Rooms 

Glenn Ligon at Regen II, “The ­Seventies Revisited” at dnj

Wednesday, Dec 5 2007

Glenn Ligon deconstructs the African-American experience through appropriated language — words from elsewhere at once inappropriate for genteel company and appropriate to persistently nagging questions of race. Here Ligon has filled a vast room with a parade of relatively small gold-colored canvases on which is stenciled the same Richard Pryor joke — seemingly identical paintings, though several bear different Pryor bons mots. Far from merely turning Richard Prince into Fresh Prince, Ligon’s same-game reflects on Black America’s enduring “Invisible Man” status through Warholian repetition. In the other room, a neon sign reading “Negro Sunshine” — a line from Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives — is painted black, glowing futilely beneath its obscuring coat. Not much to look at here, which is the point; for all the ghetto-jive fury and poignant metaphor, Ligon insists, African America’s voice is still stifled, from within as without.

From the era that gave us Pryor’s bite, a collection of unusual photographs bears witness to the nervy experimentation of Southern California camera artists. Photographer-surfer Anthony Friedkin caught some beautiful waves with his lens as well as his board, and Jane O’Neal embraced the banality around her by amping the lurid color of nighttime neon and early Cibachrome. But the real boundary-pushers among 1970s L.A. photogs were the ones who learned from Rauschenberg as well as Eggleston, who thought in terms of composing on paper as well as in camera: JoAnn Callis’ black-and-white meditations on myth and reality, as visually silky as drawings; the quasi-rebuses of Darryl Curran, turning cascades of one-offs and outtakes into visual poems with their own rhyme schemes; and Eileen Cowin’s ghost-pictures, superimposing fleeting apparitions on seemingly more stable images — “seemingly” because the fixed images only remind us that those people will be (and now are) lost to time. Glenn Ligon at Regen Projects II, 9016 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (310) 276-5424. “The Seventies Revisited” at dnj, 154½ N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (323) 931-1311. Both thru Dec. 8.

—Peter Frank

Related Stories

  • Why Surf Rock Is Southern California's Folk Music

    Now in its seventh year, the annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention celebrates regional surf music. Yes, you could call this genre SoCal folk music. It's an almost unique subculture, which has somehow managed to survive with all of its complex social codes, vocabulary and rowdy behavior intact — up to...
  • Party Nation

    Southern California is often seen by the rest of the nation as a cultural outlier, a relatively new region with traditions that are sometimes at odds with the heartland of America. But when it comes to the ultimate celebration of U.S. nationhood, there are few other places that party as...
  • Beer Festivals 3

    Nothing says summer in Southern California like unlimited beer outside on a sunny day. If you're new to craft beer, attending a festival is the perfect way to access many different breweries and styles in one place. Plus food to keep you grounded and music to keep you occupied.  Every...
  • Smells Like L.A. 14

    It's hard to argue that any one smell can be truly representative of Los Angeles. This city's simply too sprawling; we Angelenos and our tastebuds, far too diverse. But any number of aromas still have a way of instantly transporting us to various parts of the city — and that...
  • Cars Rule 13

    In the wake of an infusion of nearly $2 billion in federal cash for the Purple Line subway extension to Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Times recently opined that "L.A.'s love affair with cars is over." Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, a skeletal light-rail system, a burgeoning network of...
  • Glenn Ligon at Regen II, “The ­Seventies Revisited” at dnj

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Lina in L.A. -- Tiki Oasis
    Pin-up girls, beatnik boys and tiki lovers from L.A. and beyond made a splash at San Diego's Crowne Plaza Hotel, which hosted the annual Tiki Oasis event, this year themed "Beat Tiki" with a groovy "60s beat" thrust. The wild weekender took over the grounds with colorful cocktails, non-stop pool and room parties, fashion shows, seminars, shopping and live entertainment including burlesque, bands and more.

    See also: Tiki Oasis, a Convention for Fans of Retro Tropical Kitsch
  • Lina in L.A. -- Swinghouse Studios' Farewell to Hollywood Soiree
    A rocking, raging night was had by all when Swinghouse Studios marked a big move Saturday night. The legendary Hollywood recording and rehearsal space, which has been home to big bands and wild bashes for two decades (first on Cahuenga Blvd. and then on Willoughby Ave. near Santa Monica Blvd.) will soon move to Atwater Village. Food trucks, drinks, and great live sets by Prima Donna, Dorothy, The Beta Machine and Alexa Melo highlighted the bittersweet revelry.
  • Beatlemania at the Flying Morgans' Mansion
    In honor of the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania the Flying Morgans had a Beatle prom this last Friday to celebrate Molly, Bonnie and Gary's Birthday with 400 of their closest friends. All photos by Star Foreman.