New approaches to writing can be seen everywhere across the contemporary art world. In Los Angeles, as a city whose arts and writing communities often center around art schools, shared modes of critical engagement, discussion and inquiry are especially evident. These innovative writing practices in our city, from fiction and poetry to theory and criticism, each seems to find their corresponding forms in art, and vice versa. Ours is a city of writers who matter a great deal to artists; of artists who are also writers; of writers who are also musicians, dancers, performers or visual artists; and so many other incarnations besides.
We take this orientation as the basis for a project that engages non-traditional approaches to writing and representing. Through a version of the surrealist “exquisite corpse,” invited writers have selected artists to collaborate, and, likewise, invited artists have selected writers. The participants approached their collaborations in numerous ways. While in some cases writers produced new texts in response to their artist-collaborators’ work, in others, artists took on the function of writers, displaying materials not initially intended to be art objects. Each scenario results in a piece of writing, artwork, performance or lecture. As presented in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery or as part of the live programs, these new works tends to exist among and between the distinctions of language, object and event.
This website features both the initial publication of these articulations to appear as a Brooklyn Rail Critics Page, and texts written in response to works exhibited in Ours is a City of Writers at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 2017. Taken together, the personal connections created in these collaborations trace threads of belonging in Los Angeles, communities that preexist and survive the project, and allegiances that have come to fuller form within it.
Organized by Suzanne Hudson, Simon Leung and James Nisbet