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New Villager: Temporary Culture at Human Resources, LA

New Villager, Installation view at Human Resources, 2011

New Villager: Temporary Culture
June 21 at Human Resources, Los Angeles

New York-based band, New Villager, have taken to camping at Human Resources in LA’s Chinatown for a six-day event, spectacle rather, with tents, Tecate, and an evolving backdrop that is intended to reflect the mythology of creation by making viewers feel like they are in forest of sorts. The forest itself is a symbol of creation, process, and journeys through the dark toward the light, with obstacles from language barriers to violence to mutated beauty.

Whether the band has successfully curated this intended experience is debatable; but either way, this ten-artist collaboration is not short on theory. New Villager frontman Ben Bromley speaks with a frothing-at-the-mouth intensity about the project, even apologizing for his enviable enthusiasm, driving home that this “temporary culture” is a love-child born from a regimented and scientific approach to the evolution of art. Sweeping gesticulations and wide-eyed philosophy tell the story, at a time when the band is garnering attention for their sound, rather than their cultivated image. (On the day we met up with New Villager at Human Resources, they were billed between California favorites Best Coast and The Morning Benders at the Make Music Pasadena festival.)

Bromley wants this gallery show -- this live-breathe-sleep-amongst-your-art event -- to say something about the universal approach to art and spark audiences to contemplate whether such a thing is even possible. From daily papers strewn about the floor, fastened with black electrical tape and crumpled by feet taking a jaunt through the “forest,” to Polaroids clipped in haphazard fashion to frames of splintery 2x4s, to collage cut-outs of celebrities, if this is the universal approach to art, the universal approach is A Work In Progress.  

This is the feeling we get from Temporary Culture, the sun-deprived reclusive mini-city in a small dark space off a calm quiet road in a shy part of Chinatown. Bodies in day clothes amble from room to room, some intently and some with less direction, holding beers and sharpies making minor adjustments to structures and drawings just here and just there. While one artist rolls out his bedding for his single man tent, another cracks a can of cheap Mexican wobble pop and disappears behind a curtain to bang on drums lit up in reds and blues. It’s creative chaos. Anything goes. The space is the canvas. And it is all for you to see, finished or not, broken or not, original or not, silly or not, angry or not, and beautiful or not so beautiful. 

Anywhere you look out there in the internet-search ether, the words “New Villager” are followed in short order by words like, “mythology” and “collective” and detailed yet ambiguous iterations of who this group is, or might be. From interviews to music videos and now curating, in each presentation of New Villager nuance we see the lengths they go to embrace all aspects of artistic expression. Arguably, they’ve attacked the lofty goal of trying to be art itself. For a moment on day three of the event it feels like nothing is happening. It feels like sitting in a pool of ideas with a good DJ. But Bromley asks you to let those ideas come to life. In the end, and perhaps ironically, it’s the fierce ideology of this anarchist culture that keeps it from turning into total chaos.  


New Villager, Installation view at Human Resources, 2011

New Villager, Installation view at Human Resources, 2011

Angel Baker


Angel Baker is a writer in Los Angeles.


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