Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Set up

If you were an artist who used replication of architectural detail as part of your sculptural lexicon, where would you choose to live if you were in Los Angeles? It’s a no brainer, on a movie set. And that’s what Fiona Connor did. Her house is tucked into a classic (well Hollywood classic) barn. Half close your eyes and you could be in deepest Kentucky. Her neighbour Steve claimed the barn and his house next door were part of the set for The Virginian, a sixties TV Western that ran for nearly 250 episodes. 

Fiona Connor, who was one of this year’s four Walters Prize finalists, is studying at CalArts. This art school was started by Walt Disney in 1961 (a year before The Virginian first got airtime) and has grown into an important part of the LA surge of artists, dealers and museums.

Artists associated with CalArts have included Sam Durant (who showed at the Govett-Brewster in 2003), Tony Oursler (who had a major exhibition at the City Gallery) and Mike Kelley. Over the years the faculty has included some amazing people including John Baldessari, Judy Chicago, Roy Lichtenstein, Barbara Kruger (who showed at the National Art Gallery in the eighties) and OTN favourite Paul McCarthy. 

We got to walk the corridors but without the students who had all left for the holidays the day before, it felt like the set for a large abandoned hospital. We did get into a couple of facilities though and - no big surprise - found some standard sets used by the film students. The best one had been scrounged from that classic movie Soul Man

Images: Top to bottom, Fiona's barn, The Virginian, set pieces from Soul Man at CalArts, walking the CalArts corridors.