Made In L.A. is coming to the Hammer, Barnsdall Park, LAXART, and billboards around town on June 2 and will showcase sixty emerging, under-recognized Los Angeles artists–one of which will be voted to win a $100,000 prize. In order to help you make an educated vote this summer, we’re counting down to Made In L.A. by showcasing each artist participating in the biennial.
Ashley Hunt is a performance, video, and multi-media artist whose work deals heavily with community and education, seeking to change the way people and institutions exist and interact with each other.
Hunt’s work almost exists in a level removed from art, using the medium of video and painted graphics (detailed infographic like installations) to point out problems in the world–particularly problems surrounding the criminal justice system. In Notes On The Emptying Of A City, he made a film that was used in a performance to highlight the problems surrounding the politics of evacuation during Hurricane Katrina, particularly in relationship to Orleans Parish Prison. Hunt served as almost a journalist during the process and, during the performance, he was an educator, standing behind a desk narrating a slideshow of photos and videos of the happenings. The Corrections Documentary Project was a series of video installations that explored prison “as it helps to structure and preserve relations of today’s society–racially, economically and in terms of how power is shared.” These works obviously cope with power struggles, from the abuse of power to the loss of power, which Hunt explores through not only presenting this information but engaging his audience through discussion and literature.
In projects like Communograph and Undeliverable Address, Hunt uses similar techniques to, again, point out power struggles. Communograph had him working with Houston’s Third Ward. He was initially charged with creating a map for the community but instead morphed it into a project that analyzed the community from within, using researched based art, sidewalk conversations, storytelling and mapping, public programming, and even the website for the project as an extension of the piece. Undeliverable Address, which he did with Taisha Padgett, saw a series of questions from artists being asked of the White House in 2005, which sought to get viewers to share questions as well. As you can see from the zine made of the questions, there were many with huge concerns for and with President George W. Bush, the questions quickly pointing out unhappiness with the leader.
Admittedly, Hunt’s work is very, very dense and often seems to dip outside of art into activism. His work is important, yes, but may be a little lost on many as his work isn’t all bells and whistles: it’s a mirror to reality by showing exactly what the problems are in the world around us. Hunt will not have work in the show proper as he will be performing Notes On The Emptying Of A City as his Made In L.A. entry.