Must See Exhibit: Chemical X’s ‘CXLA’ Explores the Aesthetics of Ecstasy/Rave Culture
Back in June of 2000, TIME Magazine ran a surprising cover story titled Ecstasy: What it Does to Your Brain. Rave culture was already very much in decline by that time, but the drug had taken a newly prominent position in the American clubbing zeitgeist. Remarkably, reporters concluded that it actually wasn’t all that dangerous, relatively speaking.
With sufficient time having passed, in 2017 British artist Chemical X (once associated with the legendary Ministry of Sound scene, and a collaborator with Banksy and Damien Hirst) created an installation that featured a sculpt of supermodel Cara Delevigne seemingly floating amidst 7254 ecstasy tablets. It immediately become an instant press sensation, and is currently valued at more than $1 million.
Now the controversial artist is bringing an entire show of ecstasy themed work to Los Angeles, with an exhibition incisively titled CXLA. In keeping with his aversion to traditional galleries, it’s been fitted into the defunct Tower Records space on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood – which surely adds a modern-world poetic layer to the entire affair.
It follows another Chemical X Los Angeles installation earlier this year titled Skid Rodeo Drive – The Street Where Luxury & Poverty Meet – a commentary on the city’s rampant homeless problem. But of his upcoming show, he expounds, “The ‘Ecstasy’ series is about potential suspended in an everlasting moment, allowing the viewer to see what has been, what is and what could be – all in the same instant.”
Indeed, Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll opined to BlackBook in 2018 that rave was “the last great youth culture movement.” And ecstasy was surely its fuel.
Fittingly, Chemical X has never before exhibited via an organized public show – so there is a sense of cultural momentousness surrounding CXLA(which will open with a private event Friday, November 8, and be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, November 9 & 10.)
“I hope L.A. will come to take it all in,” he says. We say miss it at a loss to your enlightenment.