Milano Chow: Park La Brea

709 N. Hill St. inside Asian Center upstairs suite #105 Los Angeles, CA 90012 USA
Oct 24, 12 PM - 6 PM — ends Dec 05, 2020
The gallery is open by appointment and for drop in visits Wednesday - Saturday from 12-6pm.

During quarantine, I watched The Real Housewives of NY from its debut 2008 season. The show’s 12-year span to present day was condensed into a viewing period of a few months. The women experience love, divorce, lawsuits, breakdowns, and reconciliations. There’s also a slight technological arc. The video quality improves and later seasons splice in the women’s iPhone videos. In one such scene, Dorinda talks to her deceased husband who enters her room in the reincarnated form of a red balloon. It’s very moving and the personal recording injects an extra “realness” akin to the formal device of a shaky camera. Contrast this with the confessionals that are shot in front of green screens with producers just off-camera.

The show, and reality television in general, traces changing norms of intimacy and public persona. The Real World debuted almost 20 years ago so the genre is hardly new, but it resonates in an age of self-branding (with its parallel of job insecurity), personal essays and autofiction (especially by women), and public apologies.

This exhibition Park La Brea is inspired by sites and scenarios where reality and its constructs meet. The works on paper evoke the voyeuristic act of looking into a private domain. Based on architectural elevations and antiques, the drawings depict ornate facades and clocks with figures collaged into them. Windows and doors emulate screens and create pictures within pictures. I prefer using fashion models for the figures because of their awareness of the camera and because their staged quality complements the drawings’ artifice.

- Milano Chow, October 2020