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An abandoned L.A. hospital has been turned into a sprawling gallery space

Written by
Brittany Martin

A sprawling art exhibition is taking over three floors of an abandoned hospital in West Adams. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center was shut down abruptly amid a fraud scandal and the place was pretty much sealed up, exactly as it was that final day. Now the property is set to begin a process of transformation into residential units, but before that happens, it’s playing host to curator and art dealer John Wolf’s project Human Condition.  

“You get this sense of the raw vulnerability of just being in a hospital,” Wolf told L.A. Weekly of the unsettling mood conveyed by the unusual setting as well as the works on display.

The first piece upon entry is a granite bench by Jenny Holzer from her “Living Series” (another of the “Living Series” benches is in the permanent collection of the Broad, along with many other pieces by Holzer). After passing the hospital’s intake desk, visitors can proceed to explore the hospital, where they will find various themed ‘mini galleries’ behind assorted doors, as well as rooms full of medical equipment and objects that have been left just as they were found in the building.

The hospital’s nursery displays a collection of Polly Borland photographs of adult men with baby fetishes. X-ray viewers in the surgery areas act as light-boxes to illuminate works. Head into a shower stall of the former psychiatric ward to encounter a sculpture by Max Hooper Schneider. Even the rooftop billboard hovering over the dilapidated building that once read "Los Angeles Metropolitan Median Center" has been transformed into a site-specific work by artist Kelly Lamb; it now reads, evocatively, “Flesh and Bone Zone.”

Human Condition is on view at Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, 2231 S Western Ave, from 11am-6pm Fridays–Sundays through November 30. Admission is free.  

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