“Why is everyone here so hot?” says virtually every person I run into at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair last weekend. The four-day event at the Musem of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary location drew tens of thousands of bibliofiles to browse everything from $5 Xerox’d zines to $200 photography books to each other’s bodies. As one exhibitor told me, “This is the best cruising spot in L.A. right now.”
Competition for that title was fierce. LAABF was just one of three events vying for the attention of L.A.’s art lovers last weekend. Wealthy collectors and bluechip galleries flew in to the Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar for the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair, while up-and-coming artists showed installations, video, and more at Paramount Ranch, a satellite fair in the Malibu hills.
The second year that all three events coincided, Super-Bowl weekend in Los Angeles has become a full-fledged art destination weekend, drawing out-of-towners and Europeans eager to escape colder climes.
At Paramount, installations at the nomadic Green Tea Gallery’s booth focused on sound and smell. A piece by Sergei Tcherepnin played noise from a Geiger Counter (a nod to the gallery-owners Fukushima roots). Another piece decorated a shoe-rack with Chinese stinky tofu.
L.A.-artist Mark X Farina took advantage of the hillside location at Paramount with the site-specific installation below. The setting for the fair is a former set used by Paramount Studios to film Westerns in the 1930s, and then later Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Back at the book fair, a different sort of medicine woman—artist and sex educator Dorian Katz—showed off a collection of safe-sex posters she brought down from San Francisco, where she’s a curator at the Center for Sex & Culture.
“This was one targeted toward people who have a lot of sex,” Katz says, pointing at a photo of a man with a condom on his tongue. “They were trying to make the condom sexy.”