jenny holzer and robert mapplethorpe works on show in an abandoned hospital
Human Condition, a recently-opened group exhibition, eschews the L.A. gallery scene for a slightly different setting: a former hospital’s surgery rooms, pediatric wing, and psych ward.
Gregory Crewdson, Matthew Day Jackson
Each March, the outstanding Spring/Break Art Show transforms the derelict offices inside a historic US Post Office on 33rd St into sprawling site-specific installations. The fair is a welcomed respite from the typical Chelsea gallery scene, and becoming increasingly popular with New York City art lovers. Across the country, an expansive new group exhibition has opened in just as unique a space: a 40,000 square-foot former hospital in Los Angeles.
Curated and produced by art advisor John Wolf, Human Condition invites artists — among them David Benjamin Sherry, Daniel Arsham, and Ed Templeton — to explore what it means to be human by using the hospital space as a site to exhibit paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and immersive installations. Artworks are displayed throughout the entire hospital: in its surgical rooms, maternity wards, psychiatric floor, and cafeteria. One of Holzer's white granite benches greets guests on the first floor; the Intensive Care Unit is decorated with furniture by the Haas Brothers.
The former facility Human Condition has given new life is the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, L.A.'s first black-owned hospital. "It operated successfully for decades" after opening in 1971, the show's press release notes, but decline in the West Adams neighbourhood and mismanagement following its acquisition by Pacific Health Corp forced its closure in 2013. Its remaining medical supplies and fixtures (clocks, charts, telephones) shape its unique atmosphere, and make a strong case that more artworks should be exhibited in spaces far outside white cube world.
Human Condition is on view at 2231 S Western Ave on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through November 30. If I were you, I'd go on Halloweekend. More information here.
Text Emily Manning
Photography courtesy Gintare Bandinskaite