18th Street Arts Center is pleased to present Year of Wonders, redux, a solo exhibition of works by artist Elana Mann in 18th Street Arts Center’s Airport Gallery, on view from March 29 – July 2, 2021. The exhibition consists of sculptural folk instruments, video, and works on paper, all part of an ongoing series of sono-sculptures since 2014. As is common in Mann’s practice, and in the history of folk music, these works reflect the time period in which they are made. Year of Wonders, redux was born out of the nation’s unfolding political changes, passionate social movements, and the global coronavirus pandemic. They acknowledge the manifold obstacles to our ever-present desire as human beings to be together.
The sculptural works in the exhibition were first created and exhibited in the fall of 2020 at Artpace, San Antonio, TX. These pieces are intended for use in protest spaces, and although each instrument functions differently, they all prioritize a range of sounds and body types to amplify the human voice.
Our work is never done (unfinished business) is modeled on the “Mega-kazoo-horn” originally made by the legendary folk music figure Charles Chase. Chase, grandfather to the folk musician Ben Harper, was an active communist and brought the instrument to local protests in his hometown of Claremont, CA, in the 1970s. The horn features six speaking tubes, rather than only one, therefore harnessing the power of the collective voice. Mann started the sculpture over a year ago, but in the social-distancing context of COVID-19, the object’s meaning and function have shifted. Rendered temporarily unusable as a musical instrument, it currently operates as more of a symbol of collective action. Mann hopes to employ the horn in future demonstrations and marches when it is once again safe to share.
Unidentified Bright Object 11–60 consists of 50 rattles, each made with a distinct turned wood handle and a cast ceramic top containing different sound-making materials. The ceramic tops are individually adorned with a variety of phrases, such as calls to action (e.g., “Say His Name/Say Her Name”), statements (“Truth”), celebrations of the collective (“People Power”), or onomatopoeia (“SSSSSS”). Viewers may engage with the rattles however they wish, either visually or by touch.
New video (created in collaboration with Mann’s partner, designer Jean-Paul Leonard, and musician Emilý Æyer) and works on paper expand the breadth of the sculptural works, revealing other facets of Mann’s exploration into listening, vibrations, and the human voice.
Year of Wonders, redux invites viewers to contemplate the relationships between the individual and community, sound and silence, protest and performance, and how these dyads connect to resistance, equity, and social justice.
Hungry Ears is a virtual panel that will examine ongoing art and equity issues in Santa Monica, a city rocked by recent protests. This conversation will consider a number of local projects including the Belmar History + Art public art project by April Banks, Lives that Bind, an exhibition at Santa Monica City Hall and the Art of Recovery initiatives, one of which will be taking place at 18th Street Art Center, and Audrey Chan’s recent mural on the ACLU SoCal building after her year-long residency. This conversation considers how artists and arts administrators can be key community organizers in movements for social change.
This event has passed. Check out the recording below!
Hungry Ears: Jeff Schwartz
A discussion with Jeff Schwartz, a musician who works by day as a librarian at the Santa Monica Public Library. For five years, Schwartz organized a free public concert series of experimental music in the auditorium in the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library. Now that Covid-19 has effectively ended those concerts, Mann will look back on this series with Schwartz to discuss issues of art, access and sustainability.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Elana Mann explores practices of listening and amplifies voices that are yet unheard, with the goal of building equanimity in ourselves and increasing equity in our world. Mann was a fall 2020 International Artist-in-Residence at Artpace San Antonio. She was a 2020 City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellow and is a recipient of the 2019 Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Award. Mann was the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Clean-Tech Incubator and the inaugural ceramics Artist-in-Residence at Pitzer College from 2017-2018.
Mann has presented her work in museums, galleries, and public spaces in the US and abroad, most recently with solo exhibitions at Artpace, San Antonio, (TX), Lawndale Arts Center (Houston, TX), Pitzer College Art Galleries (Claremont, CA), Commonwealth and Council (LA) and Otis College of Art and Design (LA). Her work can be found in public collections at the Getty Research Institute and the Center for Political Graphics, among others. In addition, Mann curates, collaborates, organizes, and writes. She co-edited, with John Burtle, the performance score anthology “Propositional Attitudes: What do we do now?” (Golden Spike Press: 2018), with book events at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.