The Curator Alexander May Is Breathing New Life into LA’s Design Scene
This month, Los Angeles added a new exhibition to its burgeoning roster of art and design fairs. The two week event, titled “SIZED: An Exhibition of Works for The Home and Life,” featured works from more than 60 artists and designers including Sterling Ruby, Jordan Wolfson and Michèle Lamy, staged in an airy Hollywood warehouse (formerly a prop storage site for Paramount Studios).
The exhibition, helmed by the curator and artist Alexander May, was born of a pandemic-induced meditation on necessity, excess, and how we engage with our spaces— a study that pertains as much to the space in question as it does to the bodies moving within it. For May, the idea of harmony between individual and object is present in every aspect of SIZED: “site is the beginning of any project. We can think about the body as a potential site just as easily as we can an empty storage facility,” he says via Zoom from the 15,000 square-foot exhibition space.
The result is an amalgamation of objects—including a trio of asymmetric No Sesso garments hanging from the ceiling, a towering pile of gargantuan shearling poufs, a collection of hand-shaped ceramics commissioned by Tiwa Select (a local gallery that supports self-taught folk artists)—all anchored in the simple principle of human use. “The through line for the show is really the potential of human touch to activate the pieces on display,” May says. “We have pieces that mimic the human form, and others that are meant to contain or support it. In the end, all these oddities come together to tell a story about how we live and make.” SIZED’s crown jewel is a towering female nude sculpture by the Kanye West-endorsed Italian-born artist Vanessa Beecroft, whose pieces are positioned throughout the Hollywood space like ancient ruins, lending the exhibition a classical heft and articulating the centrality of the human form to the surrounding works.
May’s work is also characterized by a preoccupation with the concept of collecting itself: its entanglement with personal history and its tendency, whether in private or public contexts, to remove objects of art from the public eye. “The contents of most collections—whether we’re talking about museums or personal collectors— are rarely ever seen,” May notes. “I wanted to develop new conversations around how we collect and how we live.” This desire results in a profound eclecticism in the objects arrayed, and an emphasis on contrasting origins rather than cohesive narrative (May ensures this by staging rolls of vintage moroccan rugs beside technicolor Sterling Ruby sculptures adorned in sterling silver gardening tools). ”I believe that SIZED really is a new model,” he shrugs, “It was never going to be about focusing strictly on contemporary design, or on blue chip artists. It’s meant to serve as a reference point that holds up a mirror to the city that it’s in.” Certainly, in its celebration of cultural contrasts and fascination with the human form, SIZED paints a resonant portrait of today’s Los Angeles.
SIZED closes this week, and many of the objects on display remain available for viewing or purchase online.