"YES, I'VE HAD A FACELIFT, BUT WHO HASN'T?"
SUNDAY 9 APRIL 2017
4PM - 9PM
BETHLEHEM BAPTIST CHURCH
4901 COMPTON AVE, LOS ANGELES 90011
501(c)3 Foundation presents "Yes, I've had a facelift, but who hasn't?", a one-night exhibition held at Rudolph Schindler’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in South Central LA.
In 1937, a bilingual German Methodist parish sold their church on the corner of Forty-Ninth St. and Compton Avenue to the Bethlehem Baptist Church, a middle class African American congregation composed of recent arrivals to the area. After the original structure, presumably a clapboard Colonial revival building, burned down, the Bethlehem Baptist Church turned to a surprising figure to design a new one: the Viennese modernist Rudolf Schindler, then known primarily for his residential work. While at the time Schindler’s bold modernism had yet to become a mainstream aesthetic, particularly for ecclesiastical architecture, the intellectual and progressive-leaning congregation supported the endeavor. The budget for the church was small, so Schindler had to cut corners on materials and even his own compensation, yet the resulting structure clearly represents his practice. Over the subsequent decades, the Bethlehem Baptist Church switched hands and became a Pentecostal church serving a congregation that lived mainly outside the area, which had become, in the meantime, primarily a working class Latin American neighborhood. Later, the building fell into serious disrepair, in part because its location in South LA left it largely ignored by historical and preservation societies. At the same time, its location played a role in sparing the building from development. The decay of a space with such historical architectural significance stands in stark contrast to the preservation and continued maintenance of other modernist buildings in Los Angeles. While hardly forgotten—the church is mentioned in architectural history books—it wasn’t landmarked until 2009. Preservation, after all, is both embedded within, and complicit with, existing socioeconomic and political configurations. Since then, the Bethlehem Baptist Church underwent one major restoration project spearheaded by neither specialists or professionals, creating a sort of ‘mis-preservation’ marked by historical inaccuracies and cost-effective, ad-hoc solutions. For example, Schindler’s original, and now lost, color scheme has been replaced by stark white, a color the architect rarely employed. Today, the church remains largely in a state of continual maintenance. Soon it will serve as a venue for funeral services—a fitting program for a building with such a particular relationship to its own senescence. “Yes, I’ve had a facelift, but who hasn’t?” is an experiment in re-imagining the meaning and consequence of “restoration” and “preservation”. If restoration is usually a process orientated around returning to an “original” or “authentic” state, “Yes, I’ve had a facelift, but who hasn’t?” instead constitutes an entirely different relationship to a building and its impermanence. On one level, the exhibition confines a long process to a single evening—preservation as an action and an event. On another, markers of historicity will be excavated and critically interrogated in relation to their broader social, political, ecological and aesthetic context. In this way, “architecture” as such is exhibited not as a finalized object divorced from the vagaries of time, but rather as a process and a state of becoming. Each architect, artist, designer or historian has created some form of temporary intervention that constitutes a preservation strategy, or a way of enframing the building’s temporality, considering either the Bethlehem Baptist Church in its historic specificity or the broader implications of putting preservation on display.
Curated by Shyan Rahimi, Jessica Kwok and Adjustments Agency
Artists: Alison Rose Jefferson Amanda Williams Andreas Angelidakis Andrés Jaque ÅYR Colleen Tuite Juanito Olivarria Julia Tcharfas + Tim Ivison Marcelo López-Dinardi Matthew Doyle Nick Poe Olivia Erlanger OOIEE / Matt Olson Parasite 2.0 Sam Stewart Sasha Marie Tillman + Paul Krist Sean Raspet SSTMRT
Please note that no parking is available on site. A car service is highly recommended to and from the event.
501(c)3 Foundation revives alternative spaces in and around Los Angeles and internationally through an evolving program of experimental exhibitions and public events. Taking its name from the tax status assigned to federal not-for-profit organizations, and thus camouflaged by minutia, the foundation is conceived as a chameleonic catalyst for public and private exchange. Its own identity adapts to serve the site specific conditions of the spaces it avails to artists and curators, as well as to the contextual circumstances of each these projects.
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