Presenting a range of sculptural inventions, clusters of material, and incisive observations of the cultural landscape of the African-American experience, artist Lauren Halsey uses her work to imagine new possibilities for art, architecture, and community engagement. Combining found, fabricated, and handmade objects, her work maintains a sense of civic urgency and free flowing imagination, addressing crucial issues confronting Black people, queer populations, and the working class. This mode of work finds expressive footing in her new show at David Kordansky’s recently opened New York exhibition space, bringing together a range of work to create a shifting and colorful view of South Central LA.
Halsey’s work makes much of the concepts and necessity of protection and preservation. Critiques of gentrification and disenfranchisement are accompanied by real-world proposals as well as celebration of on-the-ground aesthetics. This exhibition will highlight Halsey’s visionary, collaborative ethos, and will include new examples from several bodies of work. Among them are funkmound sculptures, including one with a functioning waterfall; twelve-foot-tall, hand-painted columns; wall-based sculptures composed using synthetic hair; wall-based reliefs on Hydro-Stone, gypsum, and foil supports; and sculptures constructed from stacked, painted boxes that evoke the signs and symbols of neighborhood life, as well as a new type of box sculpture that channels the vivid energy of a streetscape.
Here, Halsey has folded her box sculptures into a number of funkmounds—curved, cavernous, plaster structures, mixing evocative geological forms with cityscapes, urban design, and images images that call to mind the various cultural hubs and singular expressions of self. This funkified architectural endeavor asks: How can existing buildings merge with a geological structure which offers substantive support, respite, and permanence? Halsey’s funkmounds protect that which is still here by erecting an earth-driven structure around it.
Here, each fold and turn of the mound offers both shield and shelter, placing the people and things of South Central as that which must be protected. The city itself is in turn embellished by the additions and iterations of image added by its citizens. Halsey not only adds her own sculptural details, but features images and iconographies from spaces where the city and its residents have also added their own signatures. Urban life is presented as a constantly updated and reiterated experience of culture and life, of the self and the collective. An expressive and intriguing mode of practice, her show is an enervating and expressive expression of life itself.
The show closes June 11th.
– D. Creahan
Lauren Halsey at David Kordansky [Exhibition Site]