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'Manifest Equality' advocates for civil rights

March 5, 2010 | 10:10 am

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Agit-prop has a long and venerable history in Modern art, and the practice is alive and well in Hollywood now through Sunday. "Manifest Equality," a sprawling show in the cavernous, former Big Lots! discount store on Vine Street, just south of Sunset Boulevard, assembles a wide variety of works by more than 150 artists, famous and unknown, to advocate for civil rights.

The impetus is the ongoing saga of Proposition 8, which, since passing in 2008, has prohibited marriage between homosexual partners in California. The show has a snazzy website, with a wonderfully ticklish home page, by Commune Design.

Equality 004 More than any individual work, the overall exhibition design is what resonates. Fragments of a house have been erected inside the store, with disparate paintings, photographs and graphics hanging on its surfaces, inside and out. The motif smartly recalls the 1970s work of the late sculptor, Gordon Matta-Clark.

Several things are accomplished at once. The house design highlights the crucial importance of domestic life in the LGBT community, where a general absence of public models leads to a premium placed on creativity and inventiveness. The array of broken building-parts suggests the stresses, strains and fracturing of family life caused by the routine discrimination embedded in hundreds of state and federal laws. And, last but not least, house fragments evoke the high stakes for the nation identified by no less than Abraham Lincoln, for whom "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

Lots more photos are after the jump. For more information on hours (admission is free) and events, check out the "Manifest Equality" Web site.

--Christopher Knight

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Photos: "Manifest Equality;" Credit: Christopher Knight/Los Angeles Times