Selections from the Social Practice Archive, 2011–2014

October 12–November 9, 2019
Saturdays, 12–4pm

Opening Reception
Saturday, October 12, 1pm

Related Events
Most Saturdays at 1pm (see below for details)

Reading Ours presents Landfill: Selections from the Social Practice Archive 2011–2014, organized by Elyse Mallouk, an exhibition of items remaining from ephemeral social practice art projects.

Landfill’s collection was initiated by Mallouk, and Ted Purves, for the purpose of arts research. These items were redistributed through their publication Landfill Quarterly. Reading Ours will exhibit items produced by artists Fallen Fruit, Ghana Think Tank, The Llano Del Rio Collective, Los Angeles Urban Rangers, Michael Parker and Alyse Emdur with Audrea Rena Jones and Gregory Gibson, San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets, Santiago Sierra, Allison Smith with Southern Exposure, and Brindalyn Webster Chen. The selection of objects includes announcements, offset and xeroxed posters, maps, t-shirts, patches, letters, performance documentation, and booklets. 

Leftover objects do not explain themselves. Unlike other forms of documentation, the power of ephemera lies in their unabashed inability to depict past events. It’s this failure that enables things originally intended to serve a distinct purpose to retain an unruly sort of narrative potential, a kind of flexible agency that otherwise erodes in direct proportion to a document’s illustrative success. Even the most commonplace things, from park benches to paint on pavement, help to define a set of potential exchanges that can occur in their orbit.
    — Elyse Mallouk, What We Want Is Free (2nd edition), Suny Press, 2015

Between 2011 and 2014 Landfill collected things made in relation to socially engaged artworks, and developed a network to recirculate these objects as a kind of mail art. Five issues of the Landfill Quarterly were produced during the project’s four years of existence. Issues of the journal were mailed to subscribers with a selection of objects. These objects were discussed in the publication, along with writings considering the nature of the archive and related topics. Landfill created a secondary area of resonance for artworks that were largely between people, relational, fleeting, experienced as live activities.

Along with a variety of social, political, and economic forces, the histories contained in the objects of the Landfill archive are a product of an era of social practice art partly influenced by Ted Purves, the founder of California College of the Arts Social Practice Art Program, and collaborator Mallouk. The items in the archive reflect on art practices that sought to intervene in cities through poetic and meaningful actions.

This exhibition Landfill: Selections from the Social Practice Archive, 2011–2014  provides us the opportunity to reconsider the artworks in the exhibition, and the distinct history of social practice art reflected in the archive itself.


Saturdays, 1pm

Los Angeles-based artists, organizers, and thinkers, some represented in the exhibition, have been invited to spend a half-hour at Reading Ours to discuss Landfill and reflect on the artwork, and histories of Social Practice Art.

October 12: Michael Parker on his contribution
October 19: Matias Viegner will chat about waste
October 26: Therese Kelley of the Los Angeles Urban Rangers
November 9: Courtney Fink on Cries of San Francisco and Bay Area Social Practice

Image caption: Landfill Quarterly, issues 3 (2011) and 4 (2014)

Millie Wilson: Errors of Nature
May 18–June 15, 2019

Opening Reception
Saturday, May 18, 5–8pm

Talk with Susan Silton
Saturday, June 8, 1pm

Silton will talk about her book design projects from the 1990s, including All But the Obvious (LACE, 1990), Altered Egos (Santa Monica Museum of Art, 1994), and Pervert (UCI University Art Gallery, 1995), among others

Closing Reception
Saturday, June 15, 11am–3pm

However, Millie has provided her notes from the production of her artist book Errors of Nature (1992), which we'll be delighted to share with you if you stop by Saturday. These notes include a number of "errors" culled from mid-century pulp psychology books on lesbianism that were not included in the final edition.

Please join Reading Ours for Millie Wilson: Errors of Nature, a solo exhibition of the esteemed artist and CalArts Faculty Emeritus. Bringing together three works by Wilson from the 1990s, this exhibition highlights the artist’s mining of lesbian history and consistently deft wordplay.

Organized by David Evans Frantz, the exhibition takes its title from Wilson’s artist book Errors of Nature, published in 1992 by New Langton Arts in San Francisco. This small edition lists “symptoms” of lesbianism culled from mid-century pulp psychology and sexology books. On each page four statements, dangled without subjects or predicates, are arranged to form a mysterious portrait of a deviate individual. Copies of this artist book will be available for purchase at Reading Ours.

Wilson’s queering of appropriated text is similarly presented inTwisted Love. Conceived in 1990 and exhibited for the first time at Reading Ours, this wall installation lists the sensational titles of lesbian pulp novels as an ordered grid.

Much of Wilson’s practice is rooted in imagining queer futures through fictive extrapolation and historical misinterpretation. For a 1989 installation at LACE she invented the persona of “Peter (A Young English Girl),” an imaginary early-twentieth century lesbian painter who took her name from Romaine Brooks’ 1923–24 portrait of the artist Gluck. Both Brooks and Gluck would inspire Peter’s backstory and uncompromising demeanor. In her poster Wanted (1997), presented at Reading Ours, Wilson appears as a dapperly dressed Peter in a photograph by Catherine Opie. The image is presented alongside a text highlighting Peter’s artistic struggles, personal tribulations, and historical erasure.

These three works are on view alongside a selection of exhibition catalogues and books of Wilson’s works.

Millie Wilson: Errors of Nature is organized by David Evans Frantz. This exhibition could not have been mounted without the care, enthusiasm, and trust of Millie Wilson.

Millie Wilson is an artist whose work has been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Rome, Olso, Oporto, and Melbourne. Her work is in numerous public and private collections, including those of the UCLA Hammer Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Orange County Museum of Art, The Henry Art Gallery (Seattle),The Disney Corporation, Eileen Harris Norton and Peter Norton. She has received numerous grants, including an NEA Visual Artists Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, City of Los Angeles Artist Grant, California Arts Council Fellowship, Art Matters, Inc.Grant, and a LACE Artists Projects Grant. She has been published in a variety of contexts, and has taught and lectured throughout the U.S. and Europe. She joined the faculty of the Program of Art at the California Institute of the Arts in 1985 and retired December 31, 2014.

David Evans Frantz is Associate Curator at the Palm Springs Art Museum. From 2011 to 2018 he was the curator at ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries. His curatorial projects examine alternative art movements, queer politics and culture, historical erasure, and archival practices in contemporary art. At ONE he founded a visual arts program that presented historical exhibitions and commissioned artists to respond to ONE’s collections. In 2017 he co-curated with C. Ondine Chavoya the exhibition Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., a collaboration between ONE Archives and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Axis Mundo is currently traveling to multiple venues in the United States in an exhibition tour organized by Independent Curators International. The project has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) for the exhibition catalogue.

Image caption: Millie Wilson, Errors of Nature, 1992. Artist book, edition of 1000, 6 ⅞ x 4 ⅛ inches. Published by New Langton Arts, San Francisco, in conjunction with the solo-exhibition of Wilson’s work Living in Someone Else’s Paradise, 1992. Courtesy of the artist

Sunny Mirrors
Mark Allen and Emily Joyce
April 6–May 4, 2019

Backyard Silkscreen Workshop
Saturday, April 20, 12–3pm

Mark likes to mix it up, make a mess, throw it all in the air and see where it lands. Emily fancies herself an amateur geometrician, art historian, and stand up comedian who doesn't make a move without a clear plan.

Mark has spent the last year since he closed Machine Project gleefully designing and printing posters. Emily's first book of visual poetry, A Cigar Caught in the Lilies, is fresh off the Hesse Press.

Selections from Mark's blossoming romance with printmaking will be on display alongside two large Emily Joyce prints created to accompany her new book.

Emily and Mark will also bring us master printer Maggie Lomeli to give a workshop on backyard screen printing. See details below and be sure to RSVP as space is limited.

Mark Allen is an artist, educator and curator based in Los Angeles. He was the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit art space which produced over 1500 events between 2003 and 2018, including shows with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum at UCLA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Walker Museum in Minneapolis and the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Emily Joyce was born in 1976 in Illinois and educated at the Glasgow School of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1998). Joyce has exhibited her abstract paintings and participated in projects at Human Resources (Los Angeles), Machine Project (Los Angeles), Inman Gallery (Houston), David B. Smith Gallery (Denver), The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), The Tang Teaching Museum (Saratoga Springs), and the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and more. Her work can currently be seen in the exhibition “Aftereffect: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Painting” at the MCA Denver.  Her book of poetry, A Cigar Caught In The Lilies, was published by Hesse Press (Los Angeles, 2019).

Image: Emily Joyce, Sunny Mirrors, 2017. Xerox transfer and collage on paper, 12 1/4 x 9 in. Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber

The Making of Past/Forward:
The LA Phil at 100
February 9–March 9, 2019

On color: February 23, 1–3pm
On type: March 2, 1–3pm

Content Object and Reading Ours were pleased to present an exhibition accompanied by a series of conversations and workshops celebrating the making of Past/Forward: the LA Phil at 100.  

Conversation and Workshop: Color
Saturday, February 23, 1–3pm

A conversation by Doug Goodwin and Tony Manzella followed by hands-on experimentation of color relationships.

Explore color through the lens of quantum mechanics, additive and subtractive color, emotion and color space, and question how it defines the world around us. How do we balance creative thinking with the standards necessary for order and production? How do we face the constraints of the medium? Is making a book more like aesthetic reproduction or creating something new?

Materials supplied. No experience necessary. Please RSVP at as space is limited.

Conversation and Workshop: Type
Saturday, March 2, 1–3pm

Type is everywhere—omnipresent and invisible all at once. It's historical references embedded into every nook and cranny of each character and every space in between. Who makes these marks? Who gets to decide what it looks like, what standards of legibility should be observed, and who reads it?

We'd like to introduce you to Philip. Philip is a younger cousin of Frank*. Philip is very playful, very musical, and very new. Its disparate shapes intend to speak to players in the orchestra; parts of a whole. Each character is a bit of an instrument, or a player. Certain dotted characters connote notation: tiny staccato gestures. Legible stencil forms hide small unexpected moments that flirt with experimentation and challenge our understanding of those otherwise familiar forms / instruments (or type).

Please join us as we discuss the development of Philip and explore the language of typography through historical reference and practice, and participate in a pencil to paper exercise with designer Benjamin Critton.

Materials supplied. Please RSVP as space is limited.

Reading Ours with
Kimberly Varella and Jessica Fleischmann—
Saturday, March 2, 11am–3pm

If you can't make it to the opening or either event, be sure to stop by February 16th to join designers Kimberly Varella and Jessica Fleischmann to explore the archival images, interviews, a multi-layered history, brief essays, photos, and artwork commissioned by the LA Phil in Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100.

About Past/Forward: LA Phil at 100—

Designed by Content Object, Kimberly Varella and Jessica Fleischmann (still room), and published on the occasion of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s centennial, Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 is a two-volume book that revisits the history of the LA Phil, meditates on its relationship to Los Angeles and beyond, and speculates on the future of live orchestral music and its continued relevance in contemporary culture.

The voices of John Adams, Gustavo Dudamel, Elkhanah Pulitzer, Kamasi Washington, Herbie Hancock, Peter Sellars, Yuval Sharon, Josh Kun, LA Phil musicians, YOLA students, and others imagine possible transformations of orchestras in the coming century.

Varella and Fleischmann worked together with visual curator Aandrea Stang to include commissions by L.A.–based artists Charles Gaines, Christine Sun Kim, and Lucky Dragons to visualize this speculative future drawn out in the Forwardvolume.

Additionally, the designers collaborated with Benjamin Critton to create a custom typeface for the Forward volume and Tony Manzella of Echelon Color to create special image treatments for both volumes. The illustrious pages feature 4-color LED UV offset printing plus five Pantone colors in Past, fluorescent ink and holographic foil edges in Forward, presented in an open-ended slipcase in hopes to express an effervescent quality of listening to live music (both inside the concert hall or out in the streets).

Through this publication's design, Varella and Fleischmann aimed to create a structure that challenges how we explore our roles as listeners, audience members, book readers, and designers, long after the pages of the book are closed and the vibration of the last note has faded.

Please email to RSVP for the workshops and for location information.

Participant Biographies—

Benjamin Critton is a designer, type designer, and art director based in Los Angeles. He received his BA from Hamilton College in 2006 and his MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2011. Benjamin Critton Art Department was established in 2012 is an art and design practice / service whose client-based collaborations and commissions are supplemented by independent an interdependent initiatives in publishing, writing, editing, and curation.

Jessica Fleischmann is the founder and creative director of Still Room. Her work has been recognized by the AIGA 365 and AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers, and British Book Design and Production Awards. She has held teaching positions at UCLA, Otis College of Art and SCIArc and is co-founder of X Artists’ Books – a publisher of high-quality artist-centered books.

Doug Goodwin is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work investigates the mechanisms by which language and other technologies mediate our perception of reality. Goodwin's work has been shown at many media venues including REDCAT, Toronto Film Festival, London Film Festival, Pacific Film Archive, Frankfurt Film Museum, SIGGRAPH, Eyebeam, and Dorkbot. Before earning an MFA in experimental writing at CalArts, Goodwin served as creative director for Portland's Oracle Theater, and as a board member of the Changing Scene in Denver, CO. He currently teaches the theory and history of digital media at CalArts, Emerson College and Massachusetts College of Art.

Tony Manzella creates art at the intersection of structure and chaos. His photographs depict abstracted planes and gritty surfaces of his hometown, while his sculptures incorporate found objects from the streets and alleys he travels on a daily basis. Manzella’s retouching and color separations company, Echelon Color, is one of a handful of companies in the world which handles color separations for art catalogues for the likes of SFMoma, Gagosian Gallery, and the Menil to name a few.

Kimberly Varella is an artist, graphic designer, and founder of Los Angeles-based design studio, Content Object (founded in 2012). Her work has been recognized by AIGA & Design Observer 50 Books / 50 Covers, American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Book Industry Guild of New York, among others. Varella has been highlighted in the New York Times, Cooper Hewitt Design Quarterly, KCET Artbound, and AIGA’s Eye On Design. Varella earned an MFA in art from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 1999 and a BFA in printmaking and new genres from San Francisco Art Institute in 1996.

Pochette D’Allumettes: 
A Matchbook Collection
December 9–23, 2018

Matchbook Making Workshop
December 23, 2018

Book Kitten at Reading Hours Pochette D'Allumette a collection of matchbooks. Organized by Juniper Herbst (age 9).

Sam Gould:
Zen Anarchist Garage Sale
November 3–December 1, 2018

"Free as in Nowhere, from Ayler to Anarchism"
with Bradford Baily
November 3, 2018

An artist, writer, and activist, Sam Gould cofounded artist collective Red76 and currently acts as editor for Tools in Common, an expanded publication platform. Interested in ideas about publication as an act of public making, his work often focuses on sociality, education, and encountering the political within daily life. Beyond Repair, a Tools in Common publication he edits, functions as a long now site of questioning within the 9th Ward of Minneapolis.

Gould has taught within the graduate department for Social Practice at the California College of the Arts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He has written, as well as lectured extensively within the United States and abroad.

Bradford Bailey is writer who has divided the last 15 years between New York and London. He is currently enjoying an extended stay in Mexico City. In addition to writing liner notes and texts for a number of outlets and applications, he also runs The Hum, a blog dedicated to the exploration of historical and contemporary to music existing outside of mainstream interest.

Photos by Ian Byers-Gamber