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Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith My Caldera

Morán Morán is pleased to announce an exhibition featuring Cauleen Smith’s new work, titled My Caldera, which is her first solo presentation at the gallery. Articulating Smith’s range, this show includes video and sound, textiles, sculptures, works on paper, and site-specific installation devices. The overall effect is an immersive environment that thematically analogizes aspects of volcanoes, as indicated by the show’s title: “caldera” is the word for the depression that results at the apex, post-eruption. Smith uses the volcano as a metaphor to signal crisis, to figuratively express intense emotion, or the planet’s force, but also to consider the regenerative properties of eruptions – how these events create new land, ones without the burden of human history.

Upon entering the space, the first banner, in a sequence of a dozen hand-sewn versions, carries a written message on one side and a visual indication on the other. Sometimes these phrases and pictorial declarations are cryptic, a few more literal, while others lean poetic. One piece has the French “donner avec” (give with) sewn appliqué using a shiny magenta fabric over a painted gradient blue backdrop, dotted with clear crystal droplets, countered by an image of a cloud hovering over a faceted mineral. Another piece images a crow in black silhouette falling from the sky, with the contradictory phrase “You survived” on the reverse. Each banner is strikingly composed and makes use of the various textures and sheens inherent in fabrics ranging from satin to velour, which conjures the directive of processional devices; yet here the message feels more like warnings than celebrations. 

Throughout the gallery, Smith has installed gels over the skylights in deep colors of purple, blue, and orange, casting a hue over the space and implying another visual metaphor – the stained-glass ceiling. Two sculptural works placed underneath the banners add to the theme of Earth’s layers and the elements. These pieces present large-scale functioning candles with several wicks within each, raised on steel tables, composed in stratified wax sections mixed with various dry elements like crushed stone, soil, sand, and natural pigments. The candles burn in the exhibition, with each wick behaving as its own self-sufficient volcano.

The exhibition culminates with the titular video, My Caldera, projected into a corner on a screen that is stretched wall-to-wall using clamps so that it is suspended in space. The imagery of the film is of volcanic scenes in various life stages, from pouring magma to inert mountain, with colors unnaturally saturated – purple, blue, and orange. The scratchy, chaotic aesthetic is created through Smith’s proprietary process of placing TikTok video stills onto 35 mm film, then rendering it in 4K as an artifact of the original footage. A driving, heavy metal soundtrack provides an apt audio accompaniment to the visual onslaught of nature’s rage. A common thread in Smith’s work, this exhibition looks to nature for an alternative – to draw an analogy to human dynamics.

Coinciding with this exhibition is the release of Smith’s chapbook, titled Volcano Manifesto, as an edition of 200, published by F, Houston. The text within the publication employs geology as a metaphor and tool for the dismantling of capitalism, challenging the anti-Black position that Man holds ownership over Earth. 

The volcano makes new land.

Who owns the new land of the volcano?

Lava becomes land that becomes contested by people and places

that are already

contesting things that aren’t really theirs.

The volcano obliterates all boundaries, and collapses all orders.

If the lava oozes over your dotted line do we share?

Do you give it?

Do I leave it?

Who can have it?

Who needs it?

The volcano alchemizes everything in her wake.

I curl up in her caldera and wait for glacier-melt to wash me into

sediment and

turn me into smoky quartz.

A boat floats out and I reach for it. From the bow we watch the

world begin again.

Pahoehoe builds a bridge from the caldera’s lip to our boat

asking us to hasten

our metamorphosis from flesh to mineral.

-Cauleen Smith, Volcano Manifesto (2022), p. 10

Cauleen Smith (b. Riverside, California, 1967) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, and her MFA from University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Smith is the recipient of several grants and awards, including the 2022 Heinz Award; Guggenheim Fellowship; Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize; Ellsworth Kelly Award; The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; and a Rauschenberg Residency. Smith’s works have been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, among others. Her work is included in numerous public collections, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Studio Museum Harlem; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

 

Dates

November 04 - December 22, 2022

Opening Reception

Friday, November 4, 5-8pm

Location

641 N. WESTERN AVENUE
LOS ANGELES, CA 90004

Artist

Cauleen Smith

Installation Views

All images: My Caldera, 2022, installation views. Photographs courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Installation view
My Caldera, 2022
Photograph courtesy of Morán Morán

Artworks

Cauleen Smith
Open wide, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, fringe, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
66 1/2 x 54 inches
(168.9 x 110.5 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
donner avec, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, plastic gems, velvet, silver plated chains, and gold anodized aluminum rod
67 x 54 inches
(170.2 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
I who am not one, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, velour, polymetallic textile, and gold anodized rod
63 x 54 inches
(160 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
I, who have nothing…, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, velvet, synthetic suede, rope, cord, and gold anodized aluminum rod
62 1/2 x 54 inches
(158.8 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Mines, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, velvet, velour, synthetic suede, fringe, and gold anodized aluminum rod
60 1/2 x 54 inches
(153.7 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
…we must become a menace to our enemies., 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, fringe, velvet, velour, and gold anodized aluminum rod
80 x 54 inches
(203.2 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Welcome to the aftermath, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, silver synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
76 x 54 inches
(193 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Your rock my world, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, zippers, velvet, velour, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
70 x 54 inches
(177.8 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Donner avec, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 in, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
You Survived, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, plastic gems, velvet, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
67 x 54 inches
(170.2 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
sea the sound, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, chiffon, velour, velvet, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
64 x 54 inches
(162.6 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Your rock my volcano, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, velour, velvet, silver plated chains, grosgrain ribbon, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
73 x 54 inches
(185.4 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
dis’ mantle, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, chiffon, Swarovski crystals, faceted hematite, velour, velvet, synthetic suede, and gold anodized aluminum rod
73 x 54 inches
(185.4 x 137.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
we have gone as far as we can together, 2022
Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, plastic gems, Swarovski crystals, zippers, velvet, silver plated chains, grosgrain ribbon, synthetic suede, rope, cord, and gold anodized aluminum rod
64 1/2 x 54 inches
(163.8 x 128.3 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Donner avec, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Drip, 2022
Ink, acrylic, oil stick, thread, and velvet on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
A night of earth, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Glittering expanse, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Chariot Harriet, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Donner avec, 2022
Ink, acrylic, and oil stick on photo print
40 x 31 inches, paper size
(101.6 x 78.7 cm paper size)
42 x 33 inches, framed size
(106.7 x 83.8 cm, framed size)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Pryoclastic unconformity (blue onion), 2022
Coconut soy wax, paraffin wax, gel wax, candle pigment, yellow ochre, graphite, and charcoal on powder coated steel stand
45 1/2 x 48 x 24 inches
(115.3 x 121.9 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Pryoclastic unconformity (red libr), 2022
Coconut soy wax, paraffin wax, gel wax, candle pigment, yellow ochre, graphite, and charcoal on powder coated steel stand
45 1/2 x 48 x 24 inches
(115.3 x 121.9 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
My Caldera, 2022 (excerpt)
Single-channel, digitized 35mm film, and sound
19 minutes and 53 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2 AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán