The votes are in and the recipients of the Made in L.A. 2014 Mohn Awards have been announced! Three awards were presented in conjunction with the Hammer Museum’s L.A. biennial, all funded by philanthropists and collectors Jarl and Pamela Mohn: the $100,000 Mohn Award chosen by a jury; the $25,000 Career Achievement Award, also picked by a jury; and the $25,000 Public Recognition Award chosen solely by votes from the public. This year there were 6,604 votes, more than tripling the amount cast in 2012.
The big prize was awarded to Alice Könitz and her Los Angeles Museum of Art, described as “a micro-gallery and art installation” by the Los Angeles Times. The size of a large closet, it had lived outside of the artist’s Eagle Rock studio before being brought to the museum. Könitz exhibits the work of other artists through this experimental venue, which “represents a significant trend among artists in Los Angeles and beyond that bucks an increasingly market-driven art world in favor of collaborative, critically engaged work,” according to the press release. LAMOA was just one of a number of collectives or collaborative projects featured in the biennial this year, alongside KChung, Public Fiction and James Kidd Studio.
The Career Achievement Award “honoring brilliance and resilience” was given to Magdalena Suarez Frimkess and Michael Frimkess, a couple who have been making imaginative art pottery together for over fifty years. He throws the pots and she paints them, with the resulting vessels drawing on influences as disparate as Greek vases and comic strips. Their inclusion in the exhibition was part of the Hammer’s attempt to highlight the work of under-recognized artists, in the same way that 2012’s Made in L.A. refocused attention on the late serial geometric artist Channa Horwitz.
Jennifer Moon was “the hands-down crowd favorite,” according to Hammer director Annie Philbin, securing her the Public Recognition Award from among the 35 participating artists. Moon’s autobiographical sculpture, photography and text-based work blend elements of fantasy and revolutionary ideology with a deadpan sense of humor. Take for instance, her photo “You can kill my body, but you can’t kill my soul” which features Moon emulating the famous image of Black Panther Huey Newton seated in a peacock chair. Her dog Mr. Snuggles sits at her feet, wearing a matching red beret. In “The Book of Eros,” a massive tome resembling something from “The Hobbit,” Moon chronicles every person she’s been romantically or physically entangled with since 1993. It is this mix of the personal and political, presented as an engrossing narrative, that proved so appealing to the public. Or perhaps as Moon told the L.A. Times, “the fact that the public engaged with my work might mean that they are actually ready for revolution.”
also by Matt Stromberg
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