Lauren Halsey: Liberation Architecture


Artist Lauren Halsey often describes her process in musical terms. Cultural artifacts— objects, signs and images from black America, with specific references to her hometown of South Central Los Angeles—are obsessively, in her words, “sampled” to create her instal- lations and collages. Her method of sampling goes back to funk and hip-hop music, a topic that came up in our conversation. Popularized by George Clinton’s empire—Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk All Stars—funk music realized a vision of black liberation and em- powerment through the celebratory creation of a multi-vocal, psychedelic universe. Dr. Dre’s distinctly West Coast variant of gangsta rap, g-funk, heavily drew on this sound while pushing it in a harder direction. Generating new narratives and styles out of an ad hoc archive of black popular culture, both funk and hip-hop use sampling to storytell. This technique factors heavily into Halsey’s practice. Her colorful studio is strewn with neon plexi, handsewn plastic flowers, bright beads, puffy paint bottles and rolls of reflective paper. She pastiches these items together to form her complex, ornate and immersive installations that build worlds and craft stories by reworking remnants of the past.

— “Lauren Halsey: Liberation Architecture” in CURA. Issue #25, Summer 2017