Brigitte Engler - Jaz, 2009

Let’s Get Lost

When I think about LA culture, I see Chet Baker in the Bruce Weber documentary “Let’s get lost”, looking very snug, cruising around in a convertible on the highway with two lovely women by his side. The French have Jean-Paul Belmondo getting lost in Jean-Luc Godard “A bout de souffle”, with Jean Seberg in her Breton shirt, leaving Paris behind in a convertible to meet his fate or Jean Baudrillard, the brilliant intellectual, on a road trip through Utopia (was he driving a convertible?), sipping a whiskey on the rocks in the desert heat, taking notes for one of my favorite books “L’Amérique”. Written by a French man who once said that whenever he flies back to Paris he lands in the 19th century, JB remarks that in Paris, one would go on the highway to exit the city whereas in LA, one lives on the highways and the freeways, that in fact they are the city. And he imagines a family in an RV on the loop forever, never exiting.

As for me, I’m so glad to have my friend Ali coming to pick me up at the airport and not deal with all the driving. Ali studied opera at NYU up until last year and is now an art student at CalArts. I’ll be happy to chillax, listen to her playlist and enjoy the ride to PØST, where it will feel like home in Downtown LA. Her wonderful father and mother, artist HK Zamani and Emma Jürgensen have been running the cool experimental space called PØST where they invited me to show for the second time. It took me 13 years to come back. I took a detour. Did I get lost? I went through Paris with a show two years ago at the Gordon Pym & Fils gallery rue de Seine, a very unique space in a 15th century building that is no longer a gallery but a shop (here goes the global culture) owned by an American who specializes in Rolex watches and rides a vespa. He smokes cigars and meets his friends at La Palette where I used to hang out with my friends when I was an art student at the Beaux-Arts School. Before moving back to Paris and renovating a factory in Pré-Saint-Gervais, the Gordon Pym & Fils gallery director Gottfried Tollmann used to live in LA in a beautiful house on the hill, creating the Miauhaus studios on South La Brea, dealing art by Joseph Beuys, his godfather, and making music. For a while, he travelled back and forth in between Paris and LA, throwing very elegant dinner parties everywhere he landed with his famous pasta primavera recipe and serving good red wine. He met my friend Lisa Bowman when I took him to see my show in New-York at the Bowman Bloom Gallery on E.7th st. and it turned out that they had mutual friends in LA. Small world.

Lisa moved back to LA last year. I’m looking forward to see her, Lily and Ray. I hope to go on a morning hike with her in the mountains.  I’ll get to see her new series of photographs and the artist book she has been telling me about and if I could be so lucky, hang out with Ed Ruscha whose famous line “it took me 30 years to be an over-night success” beats Andy Warhol’s “..15 minutes”. Three cheers for Los Angelinos!