Taking up space, it seems, is among the most actively policed crimes in America today. Sidewalk infrastructure prohibits extended stays through the punitive additions of spikes and dividers, cafes are inviting so long as one exchanges their stay for the purchase of food or drink, and the browsing experience in retail settings is regularly guarded. The library and the park, in fact, are the last few public places today where a person can while away time without paying a price, and even these two are threatened by diminishing public investment.
An exhibition just held at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG), set within a public park of its own, reappraises the concept of loitering to define it as a necessary—and, sometimes, even beautiful—part of the human experience. Curated by Ciara Moloney, Loitering is Delightful presented the work of ten Los Angeles artists who “respond in varying ways to the joyful possibilities of slowing down.”
One of the first pieces visitors encountered, for instance, was Untitled (Municipal Boxes), a plywood platform and set of furniture pieces from Lauren Davis Fisher that visitors were encouraged to interact with. The artist noticed that the gallery’s concrete architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Hollyhock House on the other side of the park, had an imposing effect on visitors and hoped to counteract this experience with an installation made entirely of wood, a material known to have a generally inviting tactile quality. Quite literally, the piece’s presence in the center of the gallery put loitering on the center stage.
A series of rooms featured elegant pencil drawings and dioramas of imaginary neo-classical buildings fabricated by artist Milano Chow that recalled a bygone era of architectural design that openly embraced fantasy, delight, and open-ended contemplation. Their highly detailed draftsmanship encouraged the viewer to linger in the gallery space, getting lost in their ornamentation, and, hopefully, losing track of time.
At the end of the exhibition was a bulletin board covered by a slew of post-it notes answering the question “Where do you like to loiter in Los Angeles?” Answers included L.A.-centric responses such as, “my car,” and “Zuma Beach,” while the majority of others gave evidence to the fact that parks and libraries truly are the last few places a person can truly feel they are not unduly taking up space.
Loitering is Delightful was on display from October 31, 2019 to January 12, 2020.