What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

September 14, 2023

Annetta Kapon
Proxy Gallery 10 Years
The Floating Gallery LA
August 5 - September 30, 2023

Proxy Gallery 10 Years

In 2013, Annetta Kapon held her first exhibition at Proxy Gallery: a cube that measures 12 x 12 x 12 inches. In the ten years since its opening, Proxy has presented 85 exhibitions. Invited artists and curators can use the space however they choose, decorating the inside and/or the outside of the box, or even not using it at all. Proxy has been nomadic at times. It lived for a while on a wall at the Otis College of Art graduate studios in Culver City, but also traveled to Greece and Paris. To celebrate this achievement, The Floating Gallery (another nomadic space) is exhibiting documentation of each project, as well as the physical gallery where viewers can see exhibit #85 by Mirena Kim.

Kapon is a long time educator and visual artist who created Proxy Gallery as a "conceptual project that allows a platform for discourse." It was formed while she was an MFA professor and came out of discussions with her students about creating their own conditions to make and show work, regardless of limitations. Proxy fits within the parameters of Kapon's art production. While she creates collages, sculptures and installations, she has also been influential as a professor of art as her students (many of whom have exhibited at Proxy) can attest. In this unique space, she is the sole proprietor and decision maker. She invites other artists as well as accepts proposals. She writes insightful press releases "to get the discursive ball rolling," as she states. Like any conventional gallery, Proxy has a website, opening and closing receptions, is occasionally reviewed and has printed business cards and invitations. The fact that it is small is beside the point. Yet, it is its small size and the challenges it brings for each artist that makes her project unique.

For the exhibition at The Floating Gallery, the entire history of Proxy is presented. Each exhibition is represented by a single square image that is dated and captioned. These are installed in two long horizontal rows across opposing walls of the space. The works are hung chronologically so viewers can easily trace the history of the exhibits and exhibitors. Some may be well known, others unknown, perhaps students or artists from Greece or Paris where the gallery traveled. A few, but not that many artists have had multiple exhibitions over the ten years. Kapon and her student Katie Thoma inaugurated the gallery with an exhibition of their works in January 2013. From there, contributors rose to the challenge in different ways: Shiva Akibadi covered it in faux fur (referencing Meret Oppenheims's Le Déjeuner en fourrure (1936)) and carried it to myriad commercial gallery openings in the Los Angeles area. Susan Silton created Exchange in 2015, covering the front of the gallery cube with a box of expired Agfa Photography paper that belonged to Allan Sekula. Silton inserted a peep hole into the center of the Agfa box that allowed viewers to see into the gallery where they confronted a hand written message that states, "Who is it... Who's There?" In 2022 in her second Proxy exhibition, Renée Petropoulos inserted her head into the box to create a performance piece entitled Outburst-Conjugation 2 presented at the Athens School of Fine Arts in Greece.

During Covid, the exhibits were virtual and documented by the artists. In some instances, the exhibitors forgoed the actual box in favor of surrounding walls, as in the installation Holla Holla Holla by Sharon Barnes in 2021. What is most striking about the exhibition at The Floating Gallery is the fact that uniformity of Kapon's presentation (each exhibit is represented by a single still photographic image) does not diminish the uniqueness of any of the projects but rather calls attention to the different creative ways that the artists approached the given parameters of the space. As an exhibitor myself in 2016, the representation of my work is a partial experience as I drew on all the different sides of the box and created a 3D image inside to be viewed via red/blue stereo glasses through a small opening. This could not be represented by a single image. However, in the context of the exhibition it resonates as yet another approach to solving a complex and unusual problem. Not to say that creating an exhibition is simply a problem to be solved, but in certain ways it is.

Kapon gave each of her artists "carte blanche" to create a new work that was not, as she states, "a miniature version of what they usually do," but rather a thought provoking and conceptually savvy solution to the specifics of a space that happens to be a 12 x 12 x 12 inch cube. While primarily documentation, Proxy Gallery 10 Years is also a work of art, one created by Kapon over ten years that is nuanced and smart and a celebration of works being made by a range of artists in Los Angeles and beyond.