Commonwealth and Council

Box (a proposition for ten years)

Patricia Fernández with Los Angeles Contemporary Archive


Since 2013, Box (a proposition for ten years) for Commonwealth and Council has been exhibited yearly with its contents—repurposed fragments, writings, drawings, paintings, and sculptural elements—as they accumulate, transform, and grow. Through the personalized exchange system initiated by this time-based sculpture, artist Patricia Fernández fosters a relationship with the space.

For its 8th anniversary, Fernández collaborated with Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA) and Autonomous Oral History Group (AOHG) to document the box’s contents and record an oral history of the project. AOHG has produced two vinyl recordings: one contains an interview with Commonwealth and Council (led by LACA’s Director, Hailey Loman) covering the project’s origins and ongoing relationship with the space; the other memorializes Box (a proposition for ten years) through Fernández’s reflections on eight years of correspondence and object sharing, offering insight into the box’s own archive, the ephemera that comprise and reveal an interpersonal relationship, and the underlying logic binding archivist and artist.

As in previous years, viewers are invited to peruse the letters, drawings, and other objects collected in the box, including elements added over the past year. Additionally, they can listen to its oral histories on a record player framed with hand-carved walnut wood, similar to the box’s other elements, and incised with the signature x-motif shared across the artist’s and her grandfather’s practices. Three banners serve as a finding aid, collating information on the archive’s contents and organization to help visitors navigate the materials. Viewers are invited to remotely access an online database comprising the artist’s metadata, information about the box’s contents, and photo documentation. The box is a repository—archiving a relationship—with a space, with a friend—through an exchange of objects, unanswered letters, things left unspoken yet somehow made manifest.

Patricia Fernández (b. 1980, Burgos, Spain; lives and works in Los Angeles) received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2010 and BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002. Fernández has had solo exhibitions at Holiday Forever, Jackson Hole, WY (2020); Todd Madigan Gallery, California State University, Bakersfield (2018); Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (2015); Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Spain (2015); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2014); and LA><ART (2014). Selected group exhibitions were held at the Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA (2019); Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana (2017); Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012); and Clifton Benevento, New York (2010). Fernández is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors (2019); Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2017-18); Speranza Foundation Lincoln City Fellowship (2015); France-Los Angeles Exchange Grant (2012); and California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2011). She has been a resident artist at Récollets, Paris (2016); D-Flat, México, D.F. (2016); Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito (2015); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2014); and Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy (2013). Fernández’s series of frames for Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’s Los Caprichos is currently part of the exhibition NOT I: Throwing Voices (1500BCE- 2020CE) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, on view until July 2021.

Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA) is an art archive, library, and exhibition platform that collects underexposed artistic modes of expression happening in our current moment. Challenging established concepts of the archive and art space, LACA sustains a unique experimental environment for critical inquiry, artistic research, and public dialogue. The collection at LACA is artist–run, meaning that living artists are donating, deciding what is valuable, and generating language for inventorying their work on their own terms. LACA is not affiliated with a larger institution and as such, it maintains an archive free from limitations associated with prevailing, traditional structures.

The Autonomous Oral History Group (AOHG) is a cooperative examining ethics operating in leadership roles. All interviews, recordings, transcriptions, and ephemera collected during the process are assembled and made accessible as an oral history collection.