Commonwealth and Council presents Display Systems of the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA) by Alice Könitz. It includes the Los Angeles debut of Display System #7, a new exhibition in Display System #3, and maquettes of all previous Display Systems.
Könitz founded LAMOA in 2012, describing it as a “platform for an organic institution that lives through participation.” Initially the museum was housed in a 9 x 12.5 ft wooden space with an open-plan structure and sliding doors instead of walls, located outside the artist's studio. An art project and an exhibition space in one, LAMOA would adapt to a variety of presentations, and in the span of four years, Könitz invited a total of 30 artists to exhibit and perform. The portable structure was moved to four different locations during this tenure, each revealing LAMOA in a different aspect. At the Pasadena Armory it stood within a museum setting as a sculpture in its own right, even while playing host to other artists’ work. It became more of a pavilion on the green at Occidental College, embracing the varied flow of people strolling by. In all its settings, it tended to suit works that commanded it like a stage.
LAMOA has been expanding since 2013, both in an effort to accommodate different kinds of work and as a commentary on the expansionist programs of large institutions. A bookstore and project space was established, comprising a single structure on wheels. It appeared in the exhibition Demolition Woman at Chapman University and now resides at Commonwealth and Council. Display Systems #1, 2, and 3—built for Made in L.A. 2014 at the Hammer Museum—were designed to showcase a number of smaller works by different artists while the main LAMOA structure continued its program at Könitz’s studio and other locations. These display systems were made to suit certain works that Könitz wanted to show, and to provide sculptural structures that would exist in dialogue with others. Display System #4 exhibited works by Könitz's fellow artists at the Eastern Star Gallery at the Archer School for Girls, where she worked with students to build and organize the featured artworks. Display Systems #5 and #6 were shown at the Museum der Stadt Mülheim an der Ruhr in Könitz's hometown, displaying works of her peers as well as her own.
Display System #7 debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach 2018. Here, its interlocking display units showcase a new configuration of works by Carmen Argote, Beatriz Cortez, Katie Grinnan, Olga Koumoundouros, Gala Porras-Kim, Jen Smith, and Clarissa Tossin. Display System #3, whose three tetrahedral vitrines have hosted a series of solo and group shows, presents Milk Plastic Incubator by Sterling Wells, in which a six-sided watercolor depicts a muddy stream along the Arroyo Seco, setting the scene for objects—including Disney princesses, Russian nesting dolls, and eggs—cast in casein (milk) plastic.
Beyond its component Display Systems, LAMOA adds up to something immaterial: a shape shifting institution that involves sculpture making, curating of exhibitions, and collaboration. At the same time, LAMOA exists as an art project critical of the ways that art is managed, by and large.
Alice Könitz (b. 1970, Essen, Germany; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) received her MFA from the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf in 1996 and a second MFA from the California Institute for the Arts in 1999. Könitz has had solo exhibitions at Museum der Stadt Mühlheim an der Ruhr, Mühlheim (2017); the Main Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Nächst St Stephan, Vienna (2015); Wall House, Groningen, Netherlands (2012); LA><ART, Los Angeles (2009); and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, Berlin (2008). Selected group exhibitions have been held at the Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont (2018); the Qingdao Sculpture Museum (2017); DOCUMENT, Chicago (2015); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014); the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles (2013); Verein für Raum und Form in der bildenden Kunst, Vienna (2013); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008). Könitz has been awarded the City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (2019), Kreativkraftpreis der Stadt Mülheim an der Ruhr (2017), and residencies from the Forest Island Project (2019), Fountainhead, Miami (2013), Wall House in Groningen, Netherlands (2013), and the Tong Xian Art Center, Beijing (2007). Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA), which was featured in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. 2014, won the Mohn Award for artistic excellence. Könitz’s Domestic Pavilion will be included in COLA 2019 at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, opening May 19 and on view until July 14, 2019.
Sterling Wells (b. 1984, New York City; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) received his BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007, his MFA from the Art Center College of Design in 2017, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2018. This year, he was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. He has recently shown at AWHRHWAR and Vernon Gardens.