Art & Design

New York vs LA: LOVE//WAR at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair

Art & Design

New York vs LA: LOVE//WAR at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair

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New York did Los Angeles for Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair last weekend. It was slightly confusing how many people flew across the country to celebrate fanzines.

From the fair to its conjunctive openings, half of downtown New York’s scene kids made the jump. However, I suppose LA’s high of 70 today beats New York’s low of nine, and there’s never a bad excuse for a vacation.

Saturday saw the launch of LOVE//WAR at the Art District’s hottest new gallery, MAMA. Curated by NYC artists Mint&Serf and independent publisher PaperWorkNYC, the multidisciplinary exhibition consisted mostly of downtown kids you could see at Le Bain or Lit (Lit’s owner Erik Foss even had a piece in the show), as well as some NY legends like iconic hood photographer Boogie. The photographs were edgy, urban. The paintings ran from vague abstracts to drug fueled chaos. All the work dealt in dichotomy. And there was a crumbling cement block zone in the middle of the room you could trash, which was cool.

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The gallery kept the tequila flowing like water. Everyone got wasted. Jenna Malone didn’t like her haircut. Gaslamp Killer did (french braids). A girl fanned out so hard on Eric Wareheim, star of world’s best show Tim and Eric and, more importantly to fan, bassist of Philly hardcore band Ink & Dagger, he and his hot wife had to leave. Yung Jake took giant shots. At one point a girl in a sex harness strode by. She was a hardcore heart breaking porn star.

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Serf’s up on wall

This crowd’s ability to transform the event into a party is something LA SO DESPERATELY LACKS AND NEEDS. The art, the people, the event, all a testament to New York’s wondrous turn up.

The fair, on the other hand, was not turned up. The fair was v boring. Table after table of stagnant, questionable material left me in a pensive space of is it cool? It’s so weird, I can’t tell. Wait, no, it’s stupid, that’s not a book! Is that a book? while the majority of it failed to hit a nerve at all. So many Wu-Tang references by dorky white people, passe attempts at gender-neutral feminism, and so, so many bad metal jokes. Standouts included 8 Ball, Tamara Santibanez’s booth, Nicole Reber’s Packet Biweekly, Bad Looks, fans whispering about the “spiritual experience” it would be to meet Nick Sethi, and Jeffrey Dietch wandering around in that inquisitive, whimsical way he does, impeccable in a lilac suit, swinging a Gagosian bag.

“No one is making money,” said Nick Sethi, New York photographer/freshly minted hipster spirit guide, over the truly horrible sounds Thurston Moore was making with his guitar next to the food trucks. We were talking about the artistic relevance of the zines, the fair. I’d grown bored, feeling as if navigating a farce, a series of trite, ironic attempts at being different, taking advantage of the abstract to mask a lack of artistic skill. “No one wants to spend a ton of time on something your going to sell for $15 dollars.” he offered, and it made sense. “I don’t get shit for this.”