Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985-2014: Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal?

Queens Museum of Art, New York, 31 Jan through 11 May 2014. Siona Wilson reports on the first museum survey of LAPD, the Los Angeles based performance group founded in 1985 on LA's Skid Row

LAPD, Walk the Talk, 2012, performance  view, Skid Row, Los Angeles. Photo: Avishay Artsy, KCRW

“Community art is code for bad art”, declares John Malpede, the founder of the near 30-year-old performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD). Constituted primarily from homeless and formerly homeless Skid Row inhabitants, this downtown LA group – currently 25 persons strong – takes the politics of ‘bad art’ seriously. Forever chasing cheap real estate, the art community in LA has long hovered at the edges of Skid Row. LAPD, however, belongs to the membership of Skid Row’s socially vulnerable…

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