Luciano Perna’s "The Right Place at the Right Time"
February 07, 2020
In a selection from his robust archive of photographs, the conceptual artist bears witness to Los Angeles playing itself
Featured in this edition, conceptual artist Luciano Perna will showcase "The Right Place at the Right Time," a selection from his robust archive of photographs, which viewers can encounter at ALAC’s first floor bar. Taken both in sittings and candidly from the early 80s on, these images document the Los Angeles art community, some of its most luminary figures and quintessential styles, in short all that makes Los Angeles Los Angeles.
Among the photos presented will be one of John Baldessari, portrayed with a cheeky wink holding the jar of cookies he made with the ashes of the paintings that he famously cremated in a grand, performative, even hysterical gesture of giving up painting. This photo, taken in Venice in 1989, marks the beginning of Baldessari’s trajectory into post-studio practices, the humorous, dilettante mode that defined LA art for decades.
Born in Naples, Italy, self-reflexive autobiography has long informed Perna’s work in whatever medium he explores. Perna is partial to playing with the presumed authenticity of photographs, especially as constitutes the tourist’s gaze with which his heritage is often portrayed. In this way, his documentation of the LA art scene becomes yet another form of heritage placed under his consideration: his membership in the community, its codes and norms, which, in Los Angeles, includes the performative norm of LA playing itself. "The Right Place at the Right Time” is inspired by the work of Man Ray, who would take portraits of artists and friends, alongside his own practice. Indeed, in Perna’s series, a photo of Man Ray’s wife, Juliet, is included. Perhaps the performative, surrealist lens with which Man Ray famously viewed the world makes the perfect inspiration for Perna’s desire to look at a city whose biggest export is representations, as well as the delicacy and even failures of its citizens’ efforts at representing themselves.