Photo Diary: The Venice Beach Biennial.

On the boardwalk: Case Study House Incense Burners, for the design-conscious stoner-intellectual. Definitely art. Or would that be architecture? (All photos by Celso + C-M.)

In a place as impossibly horizontal as L.A., it’s always nice to see the city’s highly centralized arts institutions leave their sinecures for some guerrilla activities at the fringes. For the first ever Venice Beach Biennial, the folks behind the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial got a crew of more than 50 fine artists to go and set up some stalls amid the outdoor circus that is the Venice Beach boardwalk. I decided to forgo the map that was available at some stalls and just troll the boardwalk in a state of general cluelessness. This way, I could see how good I was at picking out the artsy fartsies from the run-of-the-mill weirdos.

I didn’t get to see everything, unfortunately. (I had a very important fish taco appointment with friends.) But what I did see convinced me that this is something that the city’s institutions should be doing more of: inserting art into the world, in ways that are confusing and disorienting. Most significantly, however, the whole exercise offered the very real convenience of conceptual art and patchouli in a single location — always a winner in my book.

It makes no sense. It must be art.

Added benefit of hitting the boardwalk: I could gear up for Burning Man

…and the next Culver City Artwalk.

Fake huaraches in a box. Must be art.

Not officially art, but should be. It’s relational aesthetics in action.

Sort of related: gold-leaf plaster casts of dog turds. Yep, this is art.

Crude portraits made of found objects. Gotta be art. That’s me on the bottom left.

Conceptual art + rocks=Even More Conceptual. Definitely from the art side of the tracks.

Psychedelic L.A. landscapes. Not art with a capital “A” (as in considered art by someone with a pile of MFA debt), but art as far as everyone else is concerned. Somebody please tell me that these have been acquired for the Hammer’s permanent collection.

Homer and Che. Gotta be art. Unless it includes a Bob Marley, in which case it may very well be tourist tchotchkes.

I think we got art: Garden statuary of terrorists, including Abimael Guzman, of Peru’s Shining Path, above. The best part of this piece: listening to the lady behind me exclaim, “Now why would anyone want to put these in their yard?”

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