The FRINGE OF EMPIRE: A report by resident adventure-ologist, Scott Albert
VISIT: WastedLand II @ Superchief Gallery LA
Los Angeles, April 2017
I dove out of the car as my friends went to find parking, finding myself in the middle of the press of people who always spilled out the party that is a Superchief opening. I walked through a cloud of pot smoke and past a fox posing for Instagram pictures.
Obviously I’d come to the right place.
Superchief Gallery (739 Kohler St, Los Angeles, CA) is an oasis smack dab in the worst of the worst of post-apacalyptic LA, and so it was a fitting place for this touring exhibition. A block in either direction was nothing but destitute camped on lightless sidewalks in front of shut-tight shops. One of the paradoxes of LA is they never ventured to the lights and sounds of the openings I’ve attended at Superchief. The homeless and the glitterati living in parallel universes that never touch.
WastedLand was a mad, short film in which New York graffiti artists wandered a wasted landscape dressed as their spirit artists, and this was its sequel. The stars are Wolftits and Ameba, who go searching for the meaning of existence and the wisdom of a mysterious graffiti artist known only as UFO. The show was a landscape inspired by the film, and the first thing that you see as you come in a structure that kinda looks like a giant radish with eyes that spin. People were crawling inside and spinning the eyes. Graffiti covered the walls, and was added to all night by the artists from the film. There was a ramshackle hut that played the short if you climbed inside, and just beyond it I found a group of friends in a circle. I said hello and rushed off to get a beer from the open bar and the blonde bartender, who made a point at laughing at all my jokes. I rushed back to my friends, who (it turned out) hadn’t met, and just happened to be standing next to each other when I found them. The world spins on coincidences.
We drank many bears and admired the scene. A soundscape buzzed in our ears. The kind of thing that artists think soundscapes should be, low and droning. It puts you on edge at first, but soon just becomes annoying to try to speak over all night, like trying to have a conversation under a speaker at a concert.
The fox was one of the grafitti artists in the film, the fox head itself almost horrifyingly real. If it wasn’t taxidermied whoever made it deserves an Oscar of making fox masks. My disparate group of friends merged and jammed in their love of art.
Earlier that day there was some concern. The Facebook invite clearly said; “From 7 to 10.” I’ve never been to a Superchief party before 9, and there was much discussion of arriving only to have the party winding down.
At midnight, the fox strolled around handing out more beers and popcorn and the screening of the movie began. And Wolftits met Ameba on a bridge, screaming, “I’ve never met anyone on a bridge before!” “That’s weird,” Ameba answered, “I’m on this bridge all the time.”
One of my TV writer friends leaned into me, yelling over the sound of the film. “Would you,” he said. “Ever,” he said. “Green light this?” Absolutely, I answered, talking industry lingo in a room of people watching New York artists dress like animals in a bubble of burnt-out downtown. Which is maybe one of the most LA things I’ll ever do.
Later we all did-or-didn’t smoke outside on the sidewalk, debating where to wash up next as the shutter door of the gallery slowly… link of chain by link chain.. slowly closed us out. The Guatemalan Cameraman informed me that the blonde bartender laughed at his jokes, too. Our group slowly splintered, leaving some in downtown, some in Hollywood, and some outside the late night Thai place when they couldn’t handle the spice.
SCOTT ALBERT is a writer, adventurer and humourist living in Toronto and Los Angeles. You can help him procrastinate using firstname.lastname@example.org.