Here Are the 30 Artists Chosen for the Hammer’s 2020 Made in LA Biennial, a Beloved Showcase for Rising Talent on the West Coast

The fifth edition of the Hammer’s LA-centric show will open in June. 

Kahlil Joseph, BLKNWS (2018-ongoing). Courtesy of the artist.

The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles has announced the lineup for the 2020 Made in L.A. biennial, set to open in June. Thirty artists, including installation artist Aria Dean, filmmaker Kahlil Joseph, and photographer Diane Severin Nguyen, will make up the fifth edition of the show, which shines a spotlight on artists throughout the greater southern California area.

Organized by Paris-based curator Myriam Ben Salah, LA–based curator Lauren Mackler, and the Hammer’s own assistant curator of performance, Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, “Made in L.A. 2020: a version” will span two locations, fomenting a cross-town dialogue between the Hammer in west Los Angeles and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens to the east. 

“I continue to marvel at how different and eye-opening each iteration of Made in L.A. can be,” said Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin in a statement, noting that she and the three curators paid almost 300 hundred studio visits to select a “group of artists who delve into fascinating and often overlooked histories, subcultures, and communities of LA.”

“Once again, the exhibition has illustrated the strength and vision of the here and now of contemporary art in our city,” Philbin added. 

Aria Dean, <i>Production for a Circle</i> (2019). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Zoe Aubry.

Aria Dean, Production for a Circle (2019). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Zoe Aubry.

As usual, the lineup constitutes a diverse group that mixes painters, photographers, and filmmakers with sculptors, choreographers, and writers. The bunch skews young on the whole, with 12 of the 30 participating artists born in 1985 or later. Ser Serpas, a sculptor who repurposes forgotten objects with personal effects, is the youngest at 25, while Fulton Leroy Washington (aka Mr. Wash), a painter currently serving a life sentence for a minor drug offense, represents the other side of the age spectrum at 60.

Newly commissioned work by each artist will be featured in both locations, with various special projects and performances scheduled to take place at other satellite locations throughout the city. 

Kahlil Joseph, the brother of the late painter Noah Davis, will present a city-spanning version of his “BLKNWS” project, which blends music videos, lectures, and original work in the form of a news feed. Larry Johnson, a conceptual photographer now in his 60s, will debut a new series of pictures on billboards in MacArthur Park, while Justen LeRoy, who goes by the name SON., will contribute a biweekly podcast for people to listen to while traveling between the Hammer and the Huntington.

The cover of Harmony Holiday’s poetry collection <i>Hollywood Forever</i (Fence Books, 2017). Courtesy of the artist.

The cover of Harmony Holiday’s poetry collection Hollywood Forever (Fence Books, 2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Other than a shared geography, the artists will be united by a number of themes teased out by the curators, including an aesthetic interest in horror, the use of the fourth wall, and the treatment of entertainment as both “subject and a material.”

“They’re responses to our current climate, pop-culturally, politically, and socially,” Mackler told the Los Angeles Times. “What creates a sense of horror seems relevant now.”

“We chose a more oblique response to the political climate, rather than plainly political work,” Ben Salah told the LA Times. “It’s talking about things in a more poetic way, to use art for what it is, this augmented representation of a certain time and era, not a direct representation of it.”

Made in L.A. 2020: a version” will be on view at the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California, June 7–August 30, 2020. See the full list of participating artists here.

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