Alice Könitz

  1. Where did the idea for the Los Angeles Museum of Art come from? Are there any micro galleries you modeled the design and practice off of? At first I was interested in establishing a fictional institution, basically a sculpture with the title 'Los Angeles Museum of Art'. It works both ways, it could have remained just that, but it also worked as an exhibition space for artists whose work makes sense in that context. I definitely wanted to use the space to invite artists whose work I respect and admire to exhibit their work. I was curious to see what people would do on a small platform in front of a relatively intimate community. For me LAMOA has definitely been a catalyst for the exchange of ideas.

Yes, there are a few other projects that I was aware of before I started to work on LAMOA. Some of the first places that I visited in Los Angeles were the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Center for Land Use Interpretation with whom I did a residency in Wendover, Utah. They were the people who made it possible for me to come to LA in the first place. I'm also interested in historical precedents such as Marcel Broodthaers' Musée d'Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles and Claes Oldenburg's Mouse Museum. Early on when I moved here I heard about a project by a young artist, Mike Bouchet who had established an artist in residence program in a shed in the back of his house somewhere in Eagle Rock which he called Giverny after Monet's garden in the small community of northern France. I was really intrigued by the discrepancy between the name and what I imagined the actual place must have looked like. I was also inspired by Artist Curated Projects (ACP), an exhibition space that's run by Eve Fowler and Lucas Michael out of Eve Fowler's living room, and by Young Chung's Commonwealth and Council, which Chung started out off his living room too, but has since moved to a bigger space on 7th street.

For the design I had a basic idea of what it should look like: sliding doors, flat roof and elevated off the ground. I made a balsa wood model and I consulted some instructive shed building videos on youtube as well as how to books, and a few people who had some experience with building. I think my inspiration came from the tiny houses movement which I think is a really fascinating way of thinking about building. It's astounding how people sometimes get the most out of an absolute minimum. Having this small scale seems to be very economical and practical, and it doesn't tie you down as much as a bigger space would.

  1. Having a museum platform that is not only an open space but also one that is convertible, accessible, and mobile is unique. What are some of the ways you’ve seen the artists you have worked with utilize these aspects to the fullest and stretch the limits/boundaries of the pavilion you provide?

Every artist who had an exhibition there so far considered the walls, the fact that the walls are removeable and that they can be installed in different places. Most of them also reflected on how LAMOA works and what it represents, and addressed it in their exhibitions. The first sculpture that was exhibited was a multifaceted wall, featuring a mosaic of another wall as an object inside the exhibition space. The artist, Taft Green asked for only two of the sliding walls to be there as an acknowledgement of their existence. Katie Grinnan presented a communal sculpture that displayed printed information about personal interests in a variety of topics that members of a community wanted to share. The amount of information expanded during the exhibition. Stephanie Taylor's piece turned the fictional institution into another fictional space. Sonia Leimer installed a wall or window out of breakaway glass that had an inherent aspect of suspense, because of the calculated possibility of it actually braking. She also provided an additional structure that contained collaborative collages which developed out of conversations we had. When the breakaway glass wall was still intact at the end of the show, Leimer and I jumped through it. Margo Victor made use of the natural light conditions by opening the space at dusk, early enough to see her ceramic objects and late enough to screen her film when it was dark. Renee Petropoulos and Esther de Graaf expanded the space of the museum itself by installing works outside of the structure. Violet Hopkins and Skip Arnold used the museum in ways that you would expect a traditional museum to operate: Hopkins showed groupings from her vast collection of postcards, Arnold guided visitors through documents from his earlier pieces to to his recent travel film Skip Arnold China. Hopkins and Arnold used the full set of walls, except for one, Victor used the complete set. The musical duo SheKhan (Kelly Coats and Kathleen Kim) used LAMOA as a stage, dispensing completely with the walls.

  1. Because LAMOA is inherently mobile because of its size, as you’ve shown with the dual exhibitions at the Armory and the Hammer Museum, you’re capable of bringing conversations about art, and spreading and sharing said art to communities that might not otherwise have them. Was this an added bonus or a part of the initial methodology?

I like the idea of mobile buildings, mobile residences. The multiplicity of the 'institutional building' came about through necessity, I had invitations from both the Armory Center and the Hammer Museum at the same time. Thinking about LAMOA as a small institution doesn't tie it to one solid structure. As you suggest, the idea of mobility is inherent in it's structure, and as a sculptor, someone who loves dealing with forms and volume, I'm excited that it can shape shift.

  1. How has placing LAMOA, a micro gallery, set inside a larger gallery space changed the experience visitors get of your program? The meta nature of having LAMOA in both the Made in L.A. exhibition and The Fifth Wall is pretty great.

I like that in these exhibitions LAMOA can be seen both as a mini exhibition space and as an art piece in itself. I think the visitor experience inside of these institutions is quite different from the experience that you would have at my studio. To get to the end of the driveway of my studio the visitors had to first make an effort to find it, and when they arrived they were often in doubt whether they had found the right institution. Occasionally people would ask me, standing in front or inside of LAMOA where the actual museum was. I think the whole visiting experience produced a sense of adventure. Because of several great newspaper articles some people came by who didn't have much of a relation to the art world. They were very curious to see it and often spent quite a while talking about the exhibitions.

  1. Are there any plans of an LAMOA expansion project? Perhaps, micro museums could pop up in other communities or gallery spaces in the city.

I would love that!