Ambar Navarro’s “Compare You to Me” @ Leiminspace

Dec 3 – 28th
Hours: 1-6 PM Monday – Saturday
Leiminspace, 443 Lei Min Way, Los Angeles, CA

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On a crisp Saturday night in December, tucked away in a cozy corner of Chinatown Plaza in Los Angeles, it wasn’t hard to miss the bright lights and gleaming front of Ambar Navarro’s “Compare You to Me”. This deliberate install to showcase site blended our consumerist expectations of retail space with the assumed functionality of the gallery experience. Given our current state of excess, access, and our ever-growing options in a fast and disposable candy-tech culture, the cornucopia of abundance is literally on display in multiples and materialism, essentially at your fingertips.

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The tiniest little iPhones, as big as a quarter. A Giant iPhone (NFS) by Esther Kim, selfie-ready. Laptops in varied dimensions come in 2 or 3D. A pink flag above the stairs: the internationally recognized Apple imprint in an unusual way, conflicts branding, promo, and apparel. Tech-spressive shirts by Ben Aqua. It’s Ambar’s dream Apple Store. But is it also a club? Pastels and neon flare… expansive white and sleek chrome… a blend of consciousness to lower defenses and welcome this brief commodified encounter Prominently positioned are recreations inspired by an image of Paris Hilton and her many iPhones. These glassy prints play off best as surrogate POS (Point-of Sale) advertising, essentially, selling the show despite being available for sale. The etched Plexi upon entering is extra memorable, from “John Appleseed” to “Dear Kate”, soaked in modern Apple Inc. history and 1700s folklore.

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Linking the already existing with the added imagined, Ambar’s “Compare You to Me” reviews the role of patronage and presentation, while conclusively transforming unsuspecting passersby into participants when compelled to ask, “Is this an Apple Store?”

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Joanna can be found at @joannaberay

SEX WITH ROBOTS: An interview with Sarah Weis

Chicago-based performance/installation artist Sarah Weis has a thing for transformation. Although better-known for her surrealist internet video work, Sarah’s recent practice embraces the intimacy inherent to the in-person medium, creating an environment of tensions – both alien and comforting, strange and welcoming, stark and manic.

A recurring project, Sarah Weis’s minimalist bedroom, which she first endeavoured upon at the Delano Hotel during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2015, sees the artist fully transform a room in a five-star hotel into a vision of her dream bedroom. And these rooms are decidedly hers. With unconscious exuberance, she is drawn to a materially cold and hyper-feminine aesthetic language – pearls, diamonds, transluscence – a quality that references the digital, machine-world, which is reflected in her immersive performance. Specifically referencing the space and gesture of installation, minimalist bedroom subverts the notion of ideological transformation, where her rooms are created not with her hand, but rather her guidance of scantily-clad, hired male helpers, whom she lovingly refers to as her “boys”.

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Less tangibly, the work moves between the physical and virtual realm, relying on video and photographic documentation (in the latest instance by conceptual commercial agency photoxvideo) for memory, bringing her soft, and all-encompassing brand of frivolity, playfulness and sensuality to the public.

Weis and I chatted, appropriately, via a Google Doc to unpack the latest iteration of the project, minimalist bedroom :: pearls, which was installed at the Margiela-designed La Maison Champs-Elysees in Paris during October’s Paris RTW Women’s Fashion Week.

What attracts you to the “bedroom” as a setting? Why not install the piece in a more traditional art space?

I’m attracted to the intimacy of a bedroom, and more specifically to the power and mystique of a female bedroom. Traditionally, an art space carries the illusion of being a neutral zone to display content in but I’m more interested in spaces that are sensual and loaded with context. The bedroom is the space that is supposed to represent a person’s identity more than any other. It’s also one of the most difficult spaces to keep minimal. A “minimalist bedroom” to me is something unattainable because it requires a lifestyle of constant maintenance. That’s why I need all these boys to maintain mine.

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geetha thurairajah’s Fables

brandishing by Geetha Thurairajah

in touch by geetha thurairajah

Artist Statement on Fables

As paintings of the boundaries between cultural histories and lived experiences, these “landscapes” present the virtual quest for selfhood. Confused, complex and completely absent, these places capture a sentiment of cultural hybridity- the essence of displaced adolescence renewed by the virtues of becoming an Internet Explorer.

Each painting begins with a destination photograph captured via the Internet, a tea plantation from the 1800’s or a Bad Brains poster become backdrops in the search for finding an authentic self. The symbols are biographical and riddled with contradiction as icons from popular culture and misunderstandings about an ambiguous cultural past collide. The resulting works are abstracted spaces where identity can perform in complete fluidity.

watering whole by geetha thurairajah

Process Statement on Fables

Each painting begins with a digital photograph of a “location” connected to a personal history. These images include a Sri Lankan colonial estate, a tea plantation, Canada’s largest Hindu temple, a Bad Brains poster and a textile depicting wild horses. Each image is filtered through a technology- some are captured through a photographed computer screen, which distorts the images with interference and the effects of parallax; others are scanned and affected through Photoshop filters. The result is a series of universal images made personal through technological transformation. These images are further personalized through an abstract painting process as digital marks created in layers through Photoshop are applied in mimicry of a physical painting process.

Thematically, I play with icons that represent my own heritage (misunderstandings about Hinduism, popular culture, Internet memes and alienated ideas of the “homeland”). Bugs Bunny, a common referent, becomes my stand-in as a character who is able to shift identities in order to survive.

My goal was to represent a third space; technically, by going between physical and digital painting motifs and thematically by collapsing icons from personal, religious and pop cultural sources.

goodbye here by geetha thurairajah

under siege by geetha thurairajah

geetha thurairajah is a visual artist based in Toronto, CA. Her paintings interpret post-identity experience through a digital lens. She graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2014. She was a finalist for the RBC Painting Award in 2016. Her current show, Boons of Another will be on view at AC Repair Co. (Toronto) until October 22nd.