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David Freeland (MArch '04) contibutes "One Liners" to "We Are Here"
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Laure Michelon curates “We Are Here,” inaugural exhibition for A+D Museum’s new home

Jan 11, 2024

LA’s A+D Museum inaugurates its new Mid City home with exhibition “We Are Here: Imagining Space in the 21st Century,” curated by UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design’s (AUD) Laure Michelon and featuring a range of student, faculty, and alumni work from the UCLA Arts community. “We Are Here” opens Friday, January 19, with a 6 pm reception, and is on view through April 7.

Among the works on view are projects by AUD Vice Chair Kutan Ayata; AUD alumni Deeksha Harish, Yilan Huang, and Jiaqi Kang (all MSAUD ‘23) and David Freeland (MArch ‘04); and UCLA Department of Design Media Arts (DMA) assistant professor Romi Ron Morrison.

A+D’s Executive Director Natasha Sandmeier is eager to bring this show, and the museum’s new space, to audiences.

“‘We Are Here’ serves as the perfect embodiment of the A+D Museum’s reopening in La Brea,” says Sandmeier, who also leads the postgraduate Entertainment Studio in AUD's Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design (MSAUD) program. “It marks our own Here as we present evocative and experimental work exploring the limitless possibilities of the ways in which we understand and represent place today.”

A creative and architectural technologist, Michelon teaches in the MSAUD program’s Technology Studio. She curated "We Are Here" with various contemporary topics and debates in mind.

Image from Robert Gerard Pietrusko's "Areal / Analog"

Michelon observes how representations of regions, territories, cities, and neighborhoods–maps, visual information, data structures–are undergoing significant evolutions, fueled largely by accelerations in technology. The works and practices featured in “We Are Here” illustrate this shift, presenting visual media that both represent the intricate, fluid threads and fabrics of contemporary life and evoke ongoing evolution–the data, algorithms, and interconnectedness that have grown alongside the innovation and spread of technology.

Among other projects and designers on view, Alice Bucknell’s “The Alluvials” explores the politics of drought and water scarcity in a near-future version of Los Angeles. The video work and playable game take up a variety of nonhuman and elemental perspectives, including the Los Angeles River, wildfire, a 400-year-old sycamore called El Aliso, and the ghost of the city's celebrity mountain lion, P-22.

A still from Bucknell's "The Alluvials"

Harish, Huang, and Kang’s project, “VIA,” presents a world in which a nomadic tribe drifts across landscapes and seasons, finding balance between humans and nature. In a far-distant future, the wanderers drift across new natures of electrified fields, careful to leave no trace of their movements.

With "Decoding Possibilities," Morrison meditates on red-lining as both a popular narrative of post-WWII economic segregation, and a conceptual framework that is often engaged to explain contemporary patterns of poverty and racial segregation. Morrison considers Black queer, trans, and feminist geographies alongside 1935 Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps to create a space of speculation on the long-lasting impacts of red-lining; the project presents maps, enriched by archival material, that consider and demonstrate how Black communities created networks and infrastructure that subverted the economic and social devaluation of Black neighborhoods.

Photograph of Morrison's "Decoding Possibilities" in situ; photo courtesy the artist

Also included: Isabel Beavers, with “HEZ”; Freeland and LA-based FreelandBuck, with “One Liners”; Jenny Rodenhouse, with “Enchanted Forest”; Jeremy Kamal, with “Mojo Da Floods”; Studio MMR, with "NN_City < LA >"; Natalia Mejia, with “The Weight of Space”; Patricia Reed, with “Incommensurate States”; Richelle Ellis, with “Earth Gaze”; Robert Gerard Pietrusko, with “Areal / Analog”; and Ayata's office Young & Ayata, with "Not/Extracted Species."

Harish, Kang, and Huang present "VIA" during Rumble 2023 at AUD
A scene from "VIA"

“Driven by our access to vast amounts of data, advancements in scanning technologies, and an intensified sense of global interconnectedness, these practices are crafting new forms of visual expression,” Michelon says. “The artworks and installations within this exhibition are more than just objects or media presentations. They are testament to our adaptability, resilience, and shared humanity amidst drastic change.”

Michelon is a creative and architectural technologist based in LA, where she is a Lecturer at AUD and founding partner of Studio MMR. Sandmeier is Executive Director of the A+D Museum, a registered architect in the Netherlands, and founder of the LA-based design practices Office UR, and OUR+, as well as Assistant Adjunct Professor at AUD.

A+D Museum was founded by Stephen Kanner, Joe Addo, and Bernard Zimmerman in January 2001 and first opened its doors in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles. Since then, the museum has lived in a few subsequent homes. In 2020 A+D Museum restructured the institution as a hybrid platform, both physical and digital; in 2022, Sandmeier was named Executive Director and established a new A+D physical site in Mid-City LA, near the famed museum row Miracle Mile.

“We Are Here” opens on Friday, January 19, with a 6 pm reception at A+D’s new location: 170 South La Brea Avenue, Suite 120, in Los Angeles. The show is on view through April 7, 2024. Learn more via A+D’s official announcement.

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Laure Michelon, Natasha Sandmeier, Kutan Ayata
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