Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

Barbara Bestor's SCI-Arc disco extends its run

April 28, 2011 |  2:00 pm

Photo-Joshua White 2011-7143 

Typically the installations filling the gallery at the Southern California Institute of Architecture make a virtue, even a fetish, of their digital origins. Parametric concoctions of one kind or another  -- sleek, swooping or latticed -- have been the norm in recent years, some better executed than others.

As a result, the gallery's current occupant -- a happily informal, ad-hoc dance club designed by Silver Lake's Barbara Bestor -- stands out as a refreshing change.

 "Disco Silencio," whose stay at SCI-Arc has been extended through June 16, features a plywood dance floor with panels dotted with mirrors to reflect light from small disco balls overhead. The panels are also lined with a pattern called "Razzle Dazzle," which World War I warships used to confuse enemy bombers. The edges of the dance floor, meanwhile, fold up into walls, enveloping the center of the installation but also creating pockets of space along the outer edge of the gallery. When you're inside those pockets the underlying structure of "Disco Silencio" is plain to see.

Like a lot of her work, Bestor's SCI-Arc project is more sophisticated than it lets on. It makes a sly, subtle argument that much of the most progressive architecture in Los Angeles, from Irving Gill and Rudolph Schindler to Frank Gehry, has channeled its experimental impulses through straightforward, even rather low-tech, craft -- occasionally exposing rather than entirely smoothing over the facts of its construction.

That camouflage, in other words, is only a camouflage: The real strength of the installation is in its frankness about how it's put together.

Bestor also gave the design something of a split personality. During the day it's quiet and inert, but for nighttime events -- like the thesis reviews held last weekend at the school -- it turns into a thumping, strobe-lit exhibitionist.

More photos below.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

Photo-Joshua White 2011-8367 

Photo-Joshua White 2011-8392 

Photo-Joshua White 2011-7150 

Photos: Barbara Bestor's Disco Silenco installation at SCI-Arc, on view through June 16. Credit: Joshua White.