Using repurposed and recycled materials, Gabriel Kuri makes sculptures, installations and collages that react to the places where he sources these materials, taking their original purpose out of context by reassigning them as art materials. Two nudes two points echoes Brancusi’s The Kiss, using two curved pieces of industrial marble waste as figures, with two crushed Coke cans as the figures, eyes and hands.
Biennials generally show a collection of the world’s best, sometimes based on a thematic thread. Yet the tie that binds the artists in Made in L.A. is simply location – meaning that the biennial is not only taking place in L.A., but it is also in effect, about L.A. The pared down biennial was curated by Hammer’s chief curator Connie Butler, along with an unlikely partner, independent art critic Michael Ned Holte, who highly ridiculed the biennial’s first edition in 2012. Holte, who previously had no experience putting together a museum exhibition, was chosen by the Hammer’s director Ann Philbin, making enthusiasts wonder if her goal was to make him put his money where his mouth is. In turn, the pair has curated a powerful, yet noticeably different exhibition from 2012, first by cutting nearly half of the participating artists, but also notably including more female artists than males. Holte also left out all of the 60 artists who were featured in the 2012 biennial, reaffirming his critical stance from two-years ago. The resulting exhibition took over the whole of the Hammer Museum; the first time the museum has given its space to one show, and includes 11 newly commissioned works.
The experiment of giving the biennial’s biggest critic of the past, Holte, the power of curation, the museum has not only created a interesting dialogue between press and curators, but also a successful and complete exhibition.