Mackey Apartments and Garage Top
Alfredo Barsuglia: Social Pool
A conversation with Stephanie Weber and Kimberli Meyer
Wednesday, June 25th 2014 | 7 pm
Admission to the conversation is free
1137 South Cochran Avenue
Los Angeles 90019
Image: Social Pool, Alfredo Barsuglia, 2014
Artist and former MAK Center resident Alfredo Barsuglia and assistant curator at MoMA Stephanie Weber speak with MAK Center director Kimberli Meyer about Barsuglia’s project Social Pool.
About Social Pool
Alfredo Barsuglia’s Social Pool is an eleven-by-five-feet wide pool in the Southern California desert, open for anybody to use. White, unadorned and geometric, it is formally reminiscent of a Minimalist sculpture. Its location, on the other hand, nods toward the related US-American phenomenon of large-scale Land Art installations in deserts around the American West, like, most notably, Walter de Maria’s The Lightning Field in New Mexico, Robert Smithson’s famed Spiral Jetty, or Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels in Utah. Conceived in the 1970s, these works bore a critical response to and refusal of both the increasing commodification and institutionalization of art and the rampant destruction of the ecological environment. While Barsuglia’s endeavor does share a palpable and explicit idealism as such, the work simultaneously embodies the massive socio-economic changes that have taken place in the last forty years. It thus understands itself as the product of an economy in which privacy and immateriality have been fully commodified.
The title of Barsuglia’s work alone attests to his acute awareness that Social Pool might operate in ways more similar to a yoga lesson or a vacation away from it all than as an enlightened dialog with an enigmatic object. Translating the societal desire for seclusion and individual enjoyment into the layout of the installation, Barsuglia designed a bisected structure whose size only just allows for one or two people to stand or sit on either of its sides (appropriately, a bench is built into each half). The walls of each pool segment are so high that the seated person cannot easily see whoever sits in the adjacent space, despite the fact that they are just next-door. In a deliberate over-determination of the work’s suggested idiosyncrasies, Barsuglia stipulated that only one person or small party at a time can use the pool, and for no longer than 24 hours.
Social Pool is a sculpture that’s a bath, an artwork both literally immersive and forcibly relaxing – concurrently, it is a pool that has enough cultural clout to deserve a press release published by a significant cultural institution (not to mention that it was built by an emerging artist)! Astutely intertwining the semantic constructs of contemporary art, the pool (the symbol of carefree wealth, even more so in the desert), relaxation and nature, Social Pool is a complex replica of the contradictions and ideology of contemporary society, where remoteness from others and quietude are luxuries for the ever-communicating city-dweller.
– Text by Stephanie Weber
The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House is principally located at 835 North Kings Road in West Hollywood. Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 AM-6 PM. Regular admission is $7/$17 with the guidebook, Schindler By MAK; students and seniors, $6/$16 with book; free for Friends of the MAK Center and on Fridays, 4-6 PM. Parking is available at the public structure at the northeast corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard.
MAKCenter.org or call (323) 651-1510