The West Hollywood contemporary gallery, Regen Projects opened their “Pacific Standard Time” exhibit with a provoking range of new and ongoing works by Andrea Zittel. A Southern California native, currently living and working in Joshua Tree, Zittel’s show was presented at the same time as the Getty Museum’s multi-institution initiative “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” about the Los Angeles art scene.
Zittel’s explorations of place and re-mapping of physical environments that draw on Modernist concepts of design led Regen Projects to cite Zittel as an “obvious heir” to the PST project although she is a generation younger than some of the other artists exhibiting there.
Many of the works on display came out of A–Z Administrative Services, a company Zittel founded in 1992 in order to reconsider the design of domestic tools and the meaning of everyday rituals by creating objects and giving them out to volunteers who then recorded their experiences using them.
“Lay of My Land” is a sculpture of the 35-acre A-Z homestead—an elven year old (ongoing) site-specific project in Joshua Tree, California. Inspired by the Homestead Acts that promised five-acre parcels free to anyone willing to construct a home from scratch, the sculpture depicts a landscape being compartmentalized into units of “segregated and conceptually isolated commodities.”
“Wallsprawl” is a gorgeous series of wallpaper consisting of repeating patterns of topographic photographs. From far away, the paper appears to look like high-end, custom wallpaper, but on closer inspection, the viewer is treated to the collision of actual, open desert areas and large scale urban developments. These gorgeous wall coverings express Zittel’s view of human progress as the rapid takeover of the natural, as well as the changing cultural context of the west in which she works.
“Prototypes for Billboards At A-Z West” is a new series of Zittel’s. The immaculately rendered polyurethane painted billboards playfully use the art of illustration as a kind of higher truth and vehicle for Zittel’s “principles” of knowledge.
Zittel’s longest-running continuous project, “A-Z Uniforms” began in 1991 when the artist was living in Manhattan and trying to find a way to be respectably dressed at work without breaking her very meager bank. Her solution was to wear a uniform of sorts—to wear one beautiful outfit, day after day, thereby challenging entrenched American sentiments about novelty and hygiene. Regen Projects included several of these uniforms in the PST show: “A-Z Fiber Form Uniforms,” “A-Z Personal Smocks” and “A-Z Single Strand Uniforms.” By positing restrictions as a channel for liberation, Zittel invites viewers to question their own limits—and understanding of—personal freedom.
The popularity of Zittel’s Uniform project led to the creation of Smockshop —an artist-run enterprise that generates income for other artists’ non-commercial work. The simple double-wrap garment is designed by Zittel and then sewn and embellished by others, resulting in one-of-a kind wearable art. For more information about Zittel’s work, visit http://www.zittel.org/ or www.regenprojects.com