This past Friday, January 13, our preparator Christopher Wormald performed at the Sweet Life exhibition in Chinatown, Los Angeles. The art exhibition and benefit show for Syrian refugees was organized by Jacquie Li. Li asked participating artists to submit works that spoke to the surrealism of the current state of the world. The atmosphere made the event itself viscerally surreal by contrasting our “sweet life” of luxury and regale inside the coved walls of a Los Angeles photography studio while raising money for Syrian refugees fleeing from a state of combat and despair.
Sweet Life showcased the artists: Francine Banda, Matthew Hotaling, Lana Licata, Esteban Schimpf, Eric Sick, Mckenzie Stribich, and Isabel Theselius. Lana Licata’s “No Glove No Love” struck you, hanging in the middle of the room as you entered the space. Licata’s whimsical sexual overtone plays with the viewer, while the sculpture reminds you of the excessiveness hiding in your closet. Licata materializes the invisible glove monster hiding in your dryer that happens to only steal one and leaves the other behind, causing a constant, vicious consumerism buying a new pair to replace only one. As you look past the glove, you see handwritten and illustrated “Recipes”, by Matthew Hotaling, explaining how to acquire your shadow, courage, and a brain. Many of the guests gathered around “Recipes” to discuss Hotaling’s syllogistic structures representing basic concepts we are, assumingly, born with, but, according to Hotaling, eccentrically conceived.
Along with the art exhibition, Sweet Life offered vintage fare from Libanati and From The Moon, as well as hand made jewelry from N.E.J.I..
Throughout the event, Raffi Zaki, also known as Jack Pharaoh, kept up the energy with a DJ set focusing in controllerism, using various musical software to create a live set. Live performances started at 9:30 pm with Tolliver, a relocated musician from Minneapolis, Minnesota whose falsetto sound channels Marvin Gaye brought into the new age over electronic beats. During Tolliver’s set you could not help dancing with him and, upon instigation from Tolliver himself, singing backing vocals to his music. Tolliver and Intimatchine both commented on the peculiar concepts of gender, sex, and identity through their performances. Intimatchine, a duo consisting of Chelsey Holland and Christopher Wormald, accentuated Holland’s haunting, powerful vocals combined with Wormald’s deep riffs and ominous, synthesized sounds, putting the crowd into a trance-like groove far beyond their psych pop label. Intimatchine also removed the audience from “sweet life” and dropped them into an intimate space, Holland constantly engaging and approaching the crowd, creating an uncomfortable vulnerability between the performers and voyeurs, also contrasting the painful anonymity of over 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.
Though Sweet Life was shown as a single night exhibition, I expect to see much more from the space, Jacquie Li, and all the artists involved.
Written by Lainey LaRosa on January 19, 2017. Pictures courtesy of the artists, Sweet Life, and Jacquie Li.