Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Elizabeth DiGiovanni

Elizabeth DiGiovanni 


on view through June 8
Coagula Curatorial
977 Chung King Road, Los Angeles CA 90012
The gallery is open Wednesday thru Saturday, Noon - 5 PM and by appointment.

Guest Curator: Mario Vasquez

Matthew Carter, Sue De Beer, Elizabeth DiGiovanni, Roni Feldman, Sean C. Flaherty, Francesca Gabbiani, Glenn Kaino, James L. Marshall, Laurence McNamara, Kathleen Melian, Christy Roberts, Center for Tactical Magic

There is a mysterious and compelling show up right now at Coagula Curatorial in Chinatown. SÉANCE features work focused on the occult and supernatural phenomena. I ran into Elizabeth DiGiovanni at the opening and she agreed to talk to me about her pieces in the show and the nature of her practice as an artist. 

 image from

1. Could you describe your relationship to the group show, Séance? I am curious about your connection to the theme of the show and its relationship to your video, "Now and Then"?

The video in the exhibition was called "Now and Then" and it deals with a phenomena that is referred to a residual hauntings. Many paranormal researchers believe that certain settings can act like a sort of substrate, which retains a “recording” of the events that once took place there. These spirits retrace the same gestures, the same emotions, the same paths over and over. "Now and Then" collects the residue of the spirit realm and traces it's connection to memories, which when stuck on repeat, become repetitive obsessions that become engraved in the non-physical realm as well.

"Now and Then"
Video with sound
3 minutes and 25 seconds looped
Edition of 5 + 2 AP

2. You have been working with the occult, researching different groups. Can you talk a little about the sites around Los Angeles and some of the things you have learned in your research?

The occult has become such a loaded word, but really by definition means "knowledge of the hidden". I have always had a deep interest in mysticism and fraternal orders because I have always been a seeker of hidden knowledge. I was also an anthropology major as an undergraduate so some of my work really is a excuse for me to research a subject that interests me. I am hoping at some point to continue my education and get my PH.D in anthropology once I nail down a topic, which I imagine will somehow relate to superstitions and fringe religions.

Recently, over the course of last year, I attempted to visit as many different mystical locations and institutions around the Southland as I could and to participate in their secret rituals. My objective was not to simply document the events that took place at these locations, but to be participatory, and to seek answers to my own personal questions by trying to look obliquely at the Divine Mysteries. The culmination of this exploration was a photographic project, which was recently included in "LA 2012" at Musee 16 Gallery, an anthropological examination of many different spiritual locations and institutions in Los Angeles during what was thought to be a significant mystical year, marked by the end of the Mayan Calendar.

So, in essence, the spiritual diversity of Los Angeles has really become my medium, whether I am meditating with Guru Shivabalananda in an empty house in Brentwood, going to a Victorian Seance at The Crystal Matrix Center in Atwater Village, or to a Fall Equinox Ceremony at the Rosicrucian Lodge.

3. In addition to making work about supernatural phenomenon, your work also seems to be 
deeply connected to nostalgia and the ephemeral via popular images and music. Can you talk a little about your previous work such as the glitter and doom pieces?

"Glitter & Doom" was conceptually a traveling art show like a touring band, with an East Coast tour in 2007 and a West Coast tour in 2008. It was a two-person show with my friend, artist Jeremy Simmons who I went school with at SFAI. We grew up together in Lakewood, California, a small, post-war boomtown, and cookie cutter community located in the vast suburban sprawl of Southern California. Aside from being one of the first cities planned, as described by D. J. Waldie in his book about Lakewood called "Holy Land", with an abundance of churches, Lakewood is conveniently situated between the bright lights of Hollywood and the glorious fantasy of the " Happiest Place on Earth," Disneyland. Jeremy and I both developed an early love for Heavy Metal, and had a somewhat natural predisposition to the darker side of life. For us, going to metal or punk shows was our religion, we were dedicated to decibels and went there to worship.
Lakewood borders on Long Beach where, back then, a rash of drive by shootings occurred. Because of this we never knew if we were going to see our classmates the next day or not. We would go to house parties to see bands play in Long Beach and were more worried about getting shot than if the police were going to show up to shut things down. One of my videos in the show called "Drive by Metaling" references this time and was a play on the booming bass cars and the drive by shootings we grew up around but brought in my own subcultural interests. "Glitter & Doom" served as an attempt, for Jeremy and I, to rectify our skewed, romanticized, and overly nostalgic views of the world. We are both so nostalgic that we each kept all of our metal memorabilia from over the course of 25 years. But we were then able to turn a lot of it into the show. Growing up in Lakewood reminds me a lot of David Lynch -- on the surface the town is littered with mottos like "Lakewood: Where Times Change, but Values Don't" but underneath and behind closed doors there was a whole other town, hidden. While perhaps not immediately obvious, "Glitter & Doom" was our attempt to exorcise the other side of things.

4. I know that you are working on an artist run gallery space in downtown Los Angeles, can you talk a little about the space and your collaborators?

The space is a storefront in Echo Park on Temple Avenue. Both of my partners, Megan Dudley and Alexa Gerrity are very dynamic women and artists. Alexa, is a graduate from Cal Arts and is a multimedia artists like myself and we are interested in creating a space where things like installations can happen. Megan Dudley and I have both worked at commercial art galleries for many years and after a time you need some creative control as to what type of exhibitions are happening or the gallery business can become a real soulless place. We are self funded so we are slowly getting through initial stages of construction to make the space both conducive as a shared working artists studio and functional as a gallery space as well. We will start with more experimental exhibitions that are event based including performances, videos, and lectures at first and then plan on having guest curators start off the first round of exhibitions. The hardest part is agreeing on a name for the space, it's like naming a band, its a big commitment. And I'm a Sagittarius. My zodiac sign has real issues with commitment.

5. You moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, how has your work or artistic influences changed since the move?
I am originally from LA but I moved to San Francisco to attend graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. My surroundings very much influence my work. In San Francisco, my work was playful and romantic but in LA my work tends to get darker in both subject matter and overall aesthetic.
Film Still, "Wishful Thinking", Elizabeth DiGiovanni

6. Your website is really intriguing both in the way one is forced to navigate the site (the toggle button is a big diamond), what were some of the themes underlying the site development?
I blame my professors at SFAI for this. George Kuchar really encouraged the kitsch side of me and Paul Kos encouraged my francophile obsession. Both led me to creating my own website in 2006. For me, it was really just another art project. I had to learn the code in order to make roll over buttons that would pop up as chandelier gems. This was an extension of my thesis show at SFAI, comprised of an installation of glitter chandelier drawings called "No two chandeliers are alike in Paris". I also drew from other sites at the time that I liked aesthetically, like the Liberace Museum website which had these amazing flash animated curtains that sparkled and would open to reveal Liberace. It was fantastic, I miss that site.

7. What new projects are on the horizon for you?
This summer a number of like-minded artists and I are starting our own group to research and discuss secret societies.  Our activities will include field trips to a number of different mysterious and veiled sites in California. It might be a meet-up group that will probably develop into our own fraternal order, of sorts. Also, I will be joining a band with some amazing women musicians and artists. I have always wanted to be in an all female group and I see this as more of a conceptual/performance piece than a steadfast musical venture. Of course, agreeing on names for these groups will definitely be the hardest part.

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