Los Angeles is a city of neighbourhoods, and far from ignoring this diversity, curator Santi Vernetti is highlighting it with his selections for the FOCUS: Los Angeles portion of Art Toronto 2017.
“The city has a number of different pockets of gallery activity, with the main ones being the Culver City area, the downtown arts district and other galleries scattered across different areas,” said Vernetti earlier this year from LA. “I’m trying to help the fair choose galleries from all of those different little sectors,” he explained, so visitors can expect a nice overview of the city.
Unsurprisingly, with a range of neighbourhoods, there’s no shortage of varied choice.
“Los Angeles is often considered the seat of art and cultural activity and experimentation, so what we actually do have here in the city is a really wide range of diverse practices that encapsulate a whole number of different aesthetic and philosophical concerns,” said Vernetti. “I think in the presentation I’m trying to stay true to that, which is something that curatorially has always been one of my working methodologies. You know, try to highlight the diversity of practices rather than zone in on a specific register that artists seem to be working in.”
A few things can be guaranteed, though. Even though LA artists run the gamut of disciplines, it’s undeniable that the city’s mythos is dominated by the movies. And it’s a dedication that Vernetti hopes to tap into, with an homage to LA cinema.
Also on the docket are the more avant-garde aspects of the scene. “Another dream of mine is to bring some of the more genre-bending and experimental new-media artists and technologies that happen here in Los Angeles to the fair,” Vernetti said.
Some of the artists from the selected galleries will also have work on view in an exhibition curated by Vernetti, titled And the sky is grey—a nod to the Mamas and the Papas’ 1965 song “California Dreamin’.”
But far from offering an idyllic view of the West Coast, Vernetti’s showing will try to take apart some of the myth of Los Angeles as the land of milk and honey, or the place where dreams come true.
“And the sky is grey will be doing demystifying work,” he said. “Maybe showing a little bit more of the darker side, the messier side of LA that people often don’t experience until they’re actually here.”
Focus: Los Angeles is on view as part of Art Toronto from October 27 to 30 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.