If Los Angeles is a car culture, then the parking garage of the Standard Hollywood represents that beastly reality's bowels.
Art in the Parking Space, a project by Warren Neidich and Elena Bajo held in the parking garage of the Standard Hotel Hollywood as part of Pacific Standard Time's Performance and Public Art Festival on Tuesday night, was a mash-up of video, dance, walking tours and installations.
Neidich and Bajo's statement for Art in the Parking Space, the third installation of a yearlong project on the intersection of these two concepts, reflects their interest in “different environments and sets of cultural parameters that define the Los Angeles basin” — and parking garages are a bigger part of that environment than we'd often like.
Entering the underground lair started awkwardly enough. Being one disposed to show up on time for a performance event, I found the scene mostly deserted, with some projects under way — such as Sydney Cooper's raking ceremony — while other performers were still dressing. Other projects were seemingly absent — a few cases of PBR stood in for one artist project, the attempt to set a world record for cramming the most people into a parking space. (Ironically, having settled for a metered parking space on the street, I left the party to move my car in order to avoid a parking ticket before that attempt was made. This photo suggests some kind of success.)
Luckily there was a Mezcal Del Maguey-sponsored bar to get the party going.
It's hard to describe a scene that is characterized in its handouts as “a dynamic social sculpture that invokes the anarchy and provocative essence of L.A. street culture.” There was certainly a sense of anarchy — no clear hierarchy of artworks presented itself, as we were left to wander the depths of the parking garage without much guidance as to who or what we were seeing. Untitled Collective's walking tour of the space, a narrative based on the hotel's previous existence as a retirement home, provided some sense of orientation in an otherwise seeming vacuum.
Over the course of the evening, Tova Carlin, Ania Diakoff and Katerina Llanes' Sub-Standard, “a faux real room of the hotel” above, became a focal point and locus of activity. The room — constructed of literal paper-thin walls and complete with snack bar, stationery and bathrobes — turned into a party-within-the-party, diving deeper into the layers of the project-within-a-project that Art in the Parking Space casts.
The few moments in which the event felt stagnant — the awkward and slow-to-start first moments of the show, the quiet after an abrupt end to Gracie DeVito & co.'s otherwise animated and entertaining performance — were products of the pomp and circumstance of Art in the Parking Space existing beneath the umbrella of PST. A party in the Standard parking lot sounds awesome, but somehow a sponsored, sanctioned and signed-off party in the Standard parking lot comes with a sense of formality that bleeds a certain amount of the novelty and playfulness from the works.
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