I have found my new favorite place to hang: the Annenberg Space for Photography. It’s located in Century Park, which is basically the downtown of Century City. There are plenty of tall office buildings with coffee shops and bistros in the area and even Westfield Mall nearby. The building you see on TV shows and movies with the big square hole in the middle is in Century Park.
Climbing up some stairs, away from the grassy knolls will take you to the space. The architecture of the building is appropriately modern; minimalist with and emphasis on function. Proportionately, it is low and square looking a little squat surrounded by the office buildings. It’s a good-looking building, though, with stairs leading up to a deck with some modern outdoor furniture and the main entrance. The façade is polished steel (or zinc) plate with glass, just the way I like it.
I love the modern architecture of this building. It makes me want to go right in.
The interior of the square building was designed with photography in mind with the main part of the exhibit around the edges and a circular center room reminiscent of a lens. The room even has a ceiling textured like an aperture. There are two 7x14 foot hi-definition screens for projecting short films an digital photography as well as smaller screens around the room.
In the center digital media area people are watching a short documentary on 14 foot ultra hi-def screens.
They have two Microsoft Surface tables (which work like giant iPads) for further exploring photos and a reading room in the back full of photography books. Since entrance is free, I could see myself killing a lot of time in the reading room.
Even more cutting edge, along the exhibit, there are QR codes which link to audio programming from any smartphone with a QR reader app. If you don’t have one they will loan you an iPod Touch for free.
The exhibit area around the edges of the interior packed with pictures. Great eye candy.
The current exhibit is BEAUTY CULTURE with hundreds of photos of iconic models from almost equally iconic photographers. They say this about the exhibit:
BEAUTY CULTURE provides a seminal examination of photography’s role in capturing and defining notions of modern female beauty and how these images profoundly influence our lives in both celebratory and disturbing ways.
It deals with how the industry has defined beauty and also how some have challenged the popular notion of what beauty is. There is a documentary film about the industry and it puts a lot of blame on the industry for making these defined characteristics of beauty more or less unattainable for the average person.
While I agree with that part, I don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on the industry. They do what sells. If people didn’t respond to the looks and definitions of beauty, the industry would try something else. I think the industry is at least as much of a reflection of the tastes of society as it is a trend-setter. I think the industry would disagree. They like being this particular demon that people love to hate but can’t break free from.
Showing how ideas of beauty have changed in the past 60 years. Makes a point that fashion looks forward while Hollywood looks back.
Ok, stepping down from my soapbox, I loved the exhibit. There were tons of photos that I recognized instantly and many that I had never seen. It did drive something home, though. As much as I enjoyed doing fashion photography and appreciate the creativity behind these images, I have no wish to try to make a living as a fashion photographer.
I plan on returning to the space often to look more into the exhibit and attend talks on Thursday nights. If you’re in LA, chances are I will be there every Thursday. Having only seen one exhibit there, I am excited to see the different kinds of photography they will bring to the space. I'll have to wait a little while, the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit lasts until November.
That's OK, I'll just hang.