What Remains of a Building...
Surface Tension_Los Angeles

February 12 – March 27, 2010


What Remains of a Building...
Surface Tension_Los Angeles

Carmen Argote
Cindy Santos Bravo
Ken Ehrlich
Brandon LaBelle

Exhibition Duration: February 12 – March 27, 2010

Opening Reception: Friday, February 12 6:00 – 9:00 pm


727 South Spring Street  
LA, CA 90014

g727is pleased to announce What Remains of a Building..., organized by Ken Ehrlich and Brandon LaBelle. This exhibition is the third installment of the Surface Tension series, which generates collaborative projects and publications addressing site-based art practices and questions related to the built environment. Previous Surface Tension exhibitions were presented in Curitiba, Brazil (2006) and Copenhagen, Denmark (2007). 

What Remains of a Building… asks each participating artist to focus on a specific built space, including the recent new headquarters of the LAPD, a domestic space in downtown, Hollywood motels, and the legendary jazz club, the Cadillac Café. Each site provides a generative platform for examining particular histories, cultures, and politics intertwined within the city of LA. Spatial interventions and inquiry, memory tracing and re-enactments, performative gestures and staged settings are featured as strategies to query what a building is and what it may become.

For more information:

Adrian Rivas or 213 627 9563



About the Artists

Carmen Argote will focus on the notion of a memorized site, specifically with the idea of muscle memory, by working with some of the ideas behind the process of mime. The notion of muscle memory and the act of a repeated action creating a physical  and mental imprint are central to this work. 

The work will be shown on two approx. 24” television monitors contained within the outline of the kitchen space. This outline will extend from the floor to the wall and ceiling of the gallery space. The first video will show my hand tracing and touching every inch of the kitchen space, the walls, cabinets and ceiling. The camera will frame my hand only, as it attempts to memorize the kitchen space by touch. There is no audio component for this video. The second video is a mime lesson on how to mime the kitchen at 2731 Francis Ave. The instructor on the video ( an actual mime apprentice and a resident of 2731 Francis) will show us how to mime the architectural features of the kitchen space. 

Carmen Argote is a working artist living in Downtown Los Angeles. She received her M.F.A. from UCLA in 2007. Her artwork focuses on systems of organization, from architecture to Pac-man, relating these systems back to ourselves in order to reflect upon our current condition and the spaces that house us. Argote's work includes ceramics, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and painting. She currently teaches ceramics as a lecturer at CSU Los Angeles.

The Highs and Lows vol. II: “Jelly Roll” Morton as a Stranger in LA, 2010 by Cindy Santos Bravo

This project is an extension of my installation The Highs and Lows vol. I created for a group exhibition at LA ArtCore gallery in 2007. The first volume fragmented the look and lyrics of Bronzeville in Little Tokyo (1942-45). The Highs and Lows vol. II is a piece that revisits LA’s historical jazz influences and utilizes narrative fragments about Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton and his 6th street locale Cadillac Café (1917-1918) in a single-channel video montage.  The piece reawakens the location of Cadillac Café by recounting the site’s history and the story of Morton’s journey out west as a stranger in a city full. The montage searches for traces of Morton’s aspirations in LA, the idea of artistic community, and the intersection of early 20th century American music in 21st century Downtown Los Angeles. The video is in collaboration with MAETAR, Hagai Izraeli and Itai Disraeli, who created the musical composition inspired by the music of Jelly Roll Morton. Vol. II is a visual arrangement of a forgotten historical site which welcomed strangers to experiment and use Jazz as their voice. 

Cindy Santos Bravo received her MFA in the Program of Art from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. Her work has been exhibited internationally and emphasizes process and experimentation. The specifics to her investigations are based on interaction with the location, community and collaborations with other artists. Recent projects range from investigating the palimpsest nature of signage to the assemblage of video designed as a supplement to audio. Bravo spins as DJ Santos and has performed at art events in Israel, Mexico City, Mexicali, and Los Angeles. In 2007 her installation work was exhibited in Latitude a group exhibition at ArtCore in Little Tokyo. In 2008 her video work, Sampling Design and Destruction, was exhibited in Common Ground a group exhibition at the California African American Museum. She has been invited as artist-in-residence at Casa Vecina located in the Historical Center of Mexico City, and continues her practice as a moderator, visiting artist and guest lecturer throughout LA.

Relocating Aelita, 2010 by Ken Ehrlich

The installation specifically explores the architecture of the new LAPD headquarters building through an abstract engagement with Aelita: The Queen of Mars , a classic silent Soviet film made in 1924. Built on the site of a proposed civic park, the new LAPD headquarters building sits across from City Hall and was inaugurated in October around the time of the announcement of Charlie Beck's appointment as the new Chief of Police. Relocating Aelita centers around attempts to engage the participation of the LAPD in loosely scripted re-enactments by off duty officers of key scenes from the original film. Aelita,  an early post-revolutionary Russian big-budget cinematic spectacle that follows a Soviet engineer who, after receiving signals from outer space and falling in love with the Queen of Mars, travels to and initiates a revolution against the despotic rulers of Mars. It involves space travel, romantic intrigue and stunning Constructivist sets and costume design. Linking narratives of the site of the new headquarters building with re-created elements of the film, the installation traces a series of formal relationships between constructivist set design, theories of montage, new media, post-modern architecture, performativity and power relations.

Ken Ehrlich is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles. He has exhibited internationally in a variety of media, including video, sculpture and photography. His work interweaves architectural, technological and social themes to play with ideas of invention and circumvention; superstructure and infrastructure; consumption and waste; and site, place and location. He often collaborates with architects and other artists in site-specific and/or community-based projects to intervene in public spaces. He is the co-editor of Surface Tension: Problematics of Site (2003), Surface Tension Supplement No. 1 (2006) and What Remains Of A Building Divided Into Equal Parts And Distributed for Reconfiguration: Surface Tension No. 2 (2009). He currently teaches at The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and in the Department of Art at U.C. Riverside.

Motel Polytope (Xenakis in LA), 2010 by Brandon LaBelle

The motel room is a space of tourism, fantasy, criminality and transience, allowing temporary occupation that, since its development in the 1950s has increasingly occupied the landscape with its varying architectures. The Motel Polytope project is based on a series of interventions staged in Hollywood motels during the course of a week’s tourism. The interventions take the form of paint applications performed directly onto the rooms during a night’s occupation. The work draws upon the composer and architect Iannis Xenakis, who developed a highly unique approach to music composition, often uniting mathematics with musical ideas. Considering the motel room, the project playfully inserts additional geometries to the existing spaces, appropriating their often-uniform look for distributing more personalized modifications.

Brandon LaBelle is an artist and writer. His work explores the space between sound and sociality, using performance and on-site constructions as creative supplements to existing conditions. His work has been featured internationally, including the exhibitions and festivals Sound as Media, ICC Tokyo (2000), Bitstreams, Whitney Museum New York (2001), Pleasure of Language, Netherlands Media Art Institute Amsterdam (2002), Undercover, Museum of Contemporary Art Roskilde (2003), Radio Revolten, Halle (2006), Copo da Voce, Museum of Contemporary Art Niterói (2008), and Tuned City Berlin (2008). His Prototypes for the Mobilization and Broadcast of Fugitive Sound was exhibited at the Enrico Fornello gallery, Prato (2007), and his ongoing project to build a library of radio memories was presented at Casa Vecina, Mexico City (2008). He is the author of Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006) and Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010). He also collaborates within the collective working group, Surface Tension, and the working team, e+l.