In either 2001 or 2002, when I was either 19 or 20 and tackling my undergraduate degree at University of California, Riverside, I found myself in the basement of the art building. It was the beginning of the new quarter, and I wanted to take John Divola’s colour photography seminar – I was not an art student, but I was hoping he would let me in after looking at my portfolio. I went up to John and asked if I could join the class. I didn’t have any colour darkroom experience, but I did have an idea for a series of medium-format, colour Polaroids. He looked at me and said no. I turned around and walked out of the art building.
Now, some 14 years later, holding no grudges, I am excited to see Divola’s photographs of early 1970s Los Angeles (the series ‘Vandalism’ and ‘San Fernando Valley’), which will be presented at Gallery Luisotti in the Spotlight section. Divola has created some iconic images that end up floating around in the depths of your mind. I could close my eyes and see the glowing Pacific Ocean at sundown, viewed through the windows of abandoned houses in Zuma: the glowing ocean; the spray-painted, dilapidated interiors that seem to be radiating their own light.
Then there is Felipe Ehrenberg at São Paulo’s Baró, also in Spotlight. Ehrenberg was involved in Fluxus, and throughout his life he made work in Mexico, Brazil, England, the United States, and wherever else he happened to be. At Frieze New York, he will be showing work that he made in England after leaving Mexico in 1967. It was during this period that Ehrenberg created Obra Secretamente titulada Arriba y Adelante … y si no pues tambien (Work Secretly titled Upwards and Onwards … whether you like it or not, 1970), a standout work in the history of mail-art. Displaced from his native Mexico, Ehrenberg managed to participate in the 1970 Mexican Independent Salon by simply posting the work, which comprised 200 black and white postcards that seemed to not depict anything. At the artist’s request, the blank postcards were installed on the wall at the opening, and slowly, over time, an image formed of a topless woman holding a soccer ball. The pornographic figure had evaded the government’s censorship laws, as it travelled in a fragmented state across the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the exhibition the piece was destroyed.
Also in 1970, in his Telegraphic Work, Felipe exclaimed, ‘Let’s convert all the systems into poetry and visions.’ This was the same year that he went on walks through London’s garbage dumps at the time of the strikes (culminating in the video, La Poubelle). Last year I sat in Felipe’s house in Mexico City. On his wall he had a clock with scorpions instead of numbers. I imagine that he lives on scorpion time.
Also in Spotlight at Richard Saltoun is French artist Robert Filliou. On view, amongst other works, will be his first gallery: the one inside his hat. He would walk around with tiny sculptures on top of his head, and then pull his hat off to show people the works. Amazing.
David Horvitz (b.1982, Los Angeles, USA), a Frieze New York Project artist, lives and works in New York and Los Angeles. He has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, and New Museum, New York. Recent artist books include The Distance of a Day (Motto Books & Chert, 2013) and Sad, Depressed, People (New Documents, 2012). In 2011, he received the Rema Hort Mann Grant and was nominated for the Discovery Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles; and in 2013 he founded Porcino gallery in Berlin.