Review: A Night At the digiGarden (ft. a mini interview with the curator behind it)

When friend to La Liga, Ambar Navarro, reached out to let us know about her curation for Cinefamily’s Supertight this past weekend, I was excited to go out and support her nature-meets-digital-art vision. A mix of both indoor events (musical performances, stand-up comedy routines, and film screenings) and Ambar’s outdoor show, the event allowed people a chance to sit and take in the art but also interact with it, walk among it, connect with and explore it physically and emotionally.

"video diary" by May Waver

"video diary" by May Waver

Navarro’s curation was a nice balance of the cute and lighthearted, neon palette, internet culture-based art people expected to see with art that featured a more emotional, personal and refined touch, both still managing to capture what’s it's like to be an artist in the modern digital age. Pieces ranged from the funny and absurd, like Jillian Mayer’s hilarious "H.I.L.M.D.A. (How I Lost My Damn Arms)," an imaginary interpretation of how Venus de Milo lost her arms and Aleia Murawski & Alex Walbaum’s cheez-it and pretzel sculptures, to the more esoteric and atmospheric like “KEPT,” a short film by Liza Mandelup and a ceramic piece by Hello Happy Plants emblazoned with "Women Are Not Here To Serve You" across it.  

"Served" by Hello Happy Plants

"Served" by Hello Happy Plants

With a lot of the artists themselves among the attendees, Navarro’s show was truly a celebration of their work, allowing us to see how interconnected we are through markers of internet culture, digital artifacts, memes and gifs alike. In a brief exchange with Ambar below, conducted via email in the days after, we explore her collaboration with Cinefamily, what’s it’s like to be a curator, what lies ahead for her.

"Museum Blanket" by BFGF

"Museum Blanket" by BFGF

Mia Rodriguez: How did this collaboration with Cinefamily come about? Did you propose the digiGarden theme and if so, what was your inspiration and vision behind it?

Ambar Navarro: I knew of Casey Rup who curates Supertight at Cinefamily and was connected through my friend Kytten Janae. I was really into sculpture gardens after visiting The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX and loved the idea of placing screens and digital pieces in the outdoors. Laptops, iPads, and screens already look like sculptures and I wanted a garden to come alive at night - when they are closed off to the public and when you can't see any of the habitation.  I had researched the history of sculpture gardens and learned that it was the first time very wealthy people opened up their homes to the public to allow guests to visit their private gardens. A laptop is such a personal item, I wanted the whole space to feel very inviting and relaxing while also displaying renders of digital flowers and have the glow given off screens be comforting. I gathered as many screens possible and even had some borrowed some from friends, I really wanted to bring the indoors to the outdoors as much as possible with this show. I also wanted to include real life sculptures since I've recently seen a focus on prints at shows and wanted to give an opportunity to display more sculptural pieces and had most of them shipped.

"Dripping Metallic Dreams," "Cyber Siren #1" and "Cyber Siren #2" by Marina Fini

"Dripping Metallic Dreams," "Cyber Siren #1" and "Cyber Siren #2" by Marina Fini

MR: As an artist yourself, via your animations, films and installations, what's is like to be on the other side as a curator? Does it help you understand yourself as an artist more, or help you understand other artists more?

AN: Being on the side of the curator allows me to come up with different ideas with certain groups of artists and friends, who I want to curate, and who do I want to see in the same space. I don't necessarily think it makes my personal work any different or stronger but I do hope that it makes me a better and more understanding curator. My main goal is to make sure everyone's work looks good and and that everyone is happy with how their work is presented. I have definitely had my own work displayed weird at shows and having that out of your control can be really frustrating. I also try to document the show as much as possible to make sure the artists who don't live in LA still get a chance to see or experience the show somehow!

"KEPT" by Liza Mandelup

"KEPT" by Liza Mandelup

MR: The event was sold out and a huge success, congrats! What does the future hold for you in terms of curating more shows? Do you have any upcoming events or installations that we can look forward to?

AN: Aw thank you! I am curating a Degrassi Junior High marathon (with some of the artists in this show) July 22nd - I'll post more about that later. I  also have a solo show in December at  Leimen Space! That gallery is located in Chinatown and only shows solo female shows - everyone in LA should go check it out! Another goal I have as far as curating in bringing in more Mexican American artists, I have an idea for a show for only Mexican artists and might make an open call for that soon.

"Cheezits" and "Pretzels" along with "Lunchables" and "Munchies" by Aleia Murawski & Alex Walbaum

"Cheezits" and "Pretzels" along with "Lunchables" and "Munchies" by Aleia Murawski & Alex Walbaum

Follow Ambar on Instagram or get in touch with her via email @ ambarbecutie@gmail.com

Interview and photos by Mia Rodriguez

Cover photo features a piece called "life is but a meme..." by Brittney Scott