ANNENBERG SPACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY: L8S ANG3LES
For a long time, L.A. had a bad rap as a one-dimensional town full of plastic people -- a cultural void. But the people who lived here knew the city was being pigeonholed, and the evidence was often laid bare in the photographic practices developed here. In fact, L.A. has always been photographically rich, perhaps because of the light, or maybe it's just the proximity to the great image-making movie industry, but what's surprising is the variety of photographic talent.
In March of 2009, philanthropist Wallis Annenberg expanded the Annenberg Foundation's scope with the Annenberg Space for Photography, a 10,000 square foot location in Century City. "L8S ANG3LES: 11 L.A. Photographers" was organized as the inaugural exhibition, the "8" standing for the eight artists whose work was shown on the walls of the new gallery, and the "3" representing three Los Angeles Times staff photographers whose work was digitally projected in a separate screening room.
The conceit of the show was the show the diversity of L.A. as seen through the eyes of 11 very diverse photographers from an assortment of genres. There was the fine art photography of John Baldessari and Catherine Opie; the architectural photography of Julius Shulman and Tim Street-Porter; the portraiture of Greg Gorman and Douglas Kirkland; and the documentary photography and photojournalism of Lauren Greenfield and Carolyn Cole. In the projection gallery, the documentary work of Genaro Molina, Lawrence K. Ho, and Kirk McKoy, the three other L.A. Times staff photographers (Cole also worked at the Times), played as a slideshow on the walls.
The range of the photographers made for an intriguing exhibition -- Paper Magazine called the show "magnificent" -- and it was credited as a success for the newly opened space, and there were a series of successful lectures by each of the artists, as well as a workshop on digital photography taught by Greg Gorman.
To promote the exhibit, the Annenberg Foundation commissioned Steven Kochones of Arclight Productions to produce and direct a short film, which has been shared with KCET Artbound. "A great photograph does much more than explore its subject," says Wallis Annenberg in the documentary's introduction. "It explores each one of us, the humanity we share, and the differing perspectives we hold. Photography reminds us that we have a past, good or bad."
She praises the photographers' "richly diverse perspectives on one of the most complex, vibrant, and multi-faceted cities on the face of this earth," before the film launches into vignettes of the artists talking about their practice, illustrated by images of their work.