Paul McCarthy’s WS White Snow

Coinciding with Frieze Los Angeles, LAND, The Box, and Hauser & Wirth presented Paul McCarthy’s WS White Snow, the artist’s largest single work presented in the US, originally exhibited at the Park Avenue Armory (New York) in 2013. Paul McCarthy’s WS White Snow is WS White Snow is an explicit confrontation with American consumerism and grandiosity that materializes as an 8,800-square-foot artificial forest and a faithful replica of the artist’s family home. The installation has been shown February 16-19, 2023.

Paul McCarthy’s WS White Snow. Los Angeles, February 19, 2023.

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LAND, The Box, and Hauser & Wirth present Paul McCarthy’s WS White Snow, the artist’s largest single work presented in the US, originally exhibited at the Park Avenue Armory (New York) in 2013.

In November of 2022, The Box initiated an Institutional tour of WS White Snow, with curators and leadership from the Getty, MOCA, the Hammer, the Broad, the ICA LA, LAND, LAXART, LACMA, and the Lucas Museum. This think tank has resulted in the rapid action of this joint presentation of WS White Snow, to coincide with Frieze Los Angeles, as a means to garner support for permanent preservation of the work.

Like many of LA’s legendary secrets, WS White Snow has been hidden in plain sight for the past decade: an 8,800-square-foot artificial forest and a faithful replica of the artist’s family home have stood fully installed in a warehouse in East LA. The accompanying 7 hour four-channel video projection, edited by Damon McCarthy and taken from 350 hours of recorded video from the 30 days of performance in 2012/13 will be projected alongside the installation. Damon McCarthy the co-director and producer of White Snow also edited the double and single channeled videos that were included in the original installation at the Armory in NYC that will not be included in this presentation. This will be the first and possibly only time audiences in Los Angeles will be able to experience the work in situ, with the future of the work uncertain.

WS White Snow is an explicit confrontation with American consumerism and grandiosity that feels as salient presently as it did ten years ago when it debuted. Viewing the work today unearths new layers: reckoning with economic, social, and climate breakdown, we are confronted with the berserkers, the dregs of the party, and the putrid residue from ignoring what frightens us within ourselves. Clues strewn throughout the forest and cottage of WS White Snow point to the screeching halt of the bacchanal in our own culture, Through physical absurdist performances that may at times invoke repulsion, McCarthy, as Walt Paul with Elyse Poppers as White Snow, turn a mirror on the deeper psychological complexities that lurk beneath American Exceptionalism, the upside down of the myths of integrity & civility we craft to define our “best selves.” The subversion of Walt Disney’s Snow White—a syrupy spin of a dark German folktale—chips at the archetypal narrative: there are no heroes or villains to be found here, not even among the symbolism of a prized American storytelling trope. The deeply personal installation details from McCarthy’s own biography illustrate the artist’s acknowledgement of the stakes. Prescient, McCarthy plays with the roles of artist and audience in a culture increasingly obsessed with content creation. Are there boundaries to what we will produce and consume for entertainment?

Paul McCarthy WS White Snow is made possible with support from Hauser & Wirth.

The exhibition includes images and themes that some visitors may find disturbing. Admission is restricted to audiences over 17.


About the Artists

Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy is widely considered to be one of the most influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artists.  Born in 1945, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he first established a multi-faceted artistic practice, which sought to break the limitations of painting by using unorthodox materials such as bodily fluids and food. He has since become known for visceral, often hauntingly humorous work in a variety of mediums – from performance, photography, film and video, to sculpture, drawing and painting.

McCarthy earned a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969, and an MFA in multimedia, film and art from USC in 1973.  For 18 years, he taught performance, video, installation, and art history in the New Genres Department at UCLA, where he influenced future generations of West Coast artists.  McCarthy’s work comprises collaborations with artist-friends such as Mike Kelley and Jason Rhoades, as well as his son Damon McCarthy.

Damon McCarthy

Born in 1973, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Damon McCarthy earned a BA in film at CalArts in 1998. For the last 23 years, he has collaborated with his father, Paul McCarthy, as co-director and editor on many complex performative video installations and large-scale film projects. Their collaborative works have been shown extensively worldwide including exhibitions at the Volksbühne, Berlin (2015); Park Avenue Armory (2013); Hauser & Wirth New York (2013); The Box, Los Angeles (2012); Sammlung Friedrichshof, Zurndorf (2010); and Hauser & Wirth Zürich (2007).

Collaborative works include: Theatrical productions of NV (2022) and A&E (2022); Night Vater (2019); Donald and Daisy Duck Adventure, DADDA (2017); Coach Stage Stage Coach, CSSC (2016); WS White Snow (2012-13); White Snow Mammoth (2012); Rebel Dabble Babble (2012); Caribbean Pirates (2005); Piccadilly Circus (2003); Bunker Basement (2003).

About The Box LA

The Box LA was formed in 2007 by Mara McCarthy (Principal/Curator) with her father, Paul McCarthy, when they realized how many critically important artists in their community had been overlooked and were not being shown. From its initial location in Chinatown to its current home in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, the gallery has honed a respected program, and exhibits artists across generations who work in a variety of mediums including performance, installation, dance, drawing, painting, sculpture, video and photography. With a robust public program series, The Box LA offers audiences multiple access points to engage both forgotten art histories and the work of emerging artists who straddle a similar ethos of risk and experimentation. The gallery recognizes the role of the art market as a means for artists to enter or re-enter art histories, and balances commercial interests against the cultural, political, psychological and spiritual content that the work may offer. 

Following the gallery’s move to the Arts District in 2012 and the continued growth of the program, McCarthy is now interested in expanding the notion of a commercial gallery space. In recent years, she has facilitated more artist-centered programs, sought new ways to work with more diverse audiences, and continued to engage politically and psychologically dynamic work. The gallery is also interested in engaging with and supporting nonprofit organizations as part of its overall program. In 2021/22, the gallery’s parking lot served as a makeshift residency for Pieter Performance Space, whose work led to the exhibition, Knees, Schools, Urges. The Box has also collaborated with and served as host to homeLA’s public education program, The We in Me, which considers homelessness through the lens of empathy and civic engagement. A low-income housing prototype, Jardin des Estrellas, spearheaded by gallery artist Corazon del Sol, is located in the gallery parking lot and serves as a site for her advocacy and efforts to realize the project on a larger scale throughout the city.

About Hauser & Wirth

Hauser & Wirth was founded in 1992 in Zurich by Iwan Wirth, Manuela Wirth and Ursula Hauser, who were joined in 2000 by Partner and President Marc Payot and CEO Ewan Venters in 2020. A family business with a global outlook, Hauser & Wirth has expanded over the past 30 years to include outposts in Hong Kong, London, New York, Southampton, Los Angeles, Somerset, Menorca, Monaco, Zurich, Gstaad and St. Moritz. The gallery represents over 90 artists and estates who have been instrumental in shaping its identity and who are the inspiration for Hauser & Wirth’s diverse range of activities that engage with art, learning, conservation and sustainability.

Hauser & Wirth opened its Los Angeles location in 2016 in the heart of the burgeoning Downtown Arts District at 901 East 3rd Street. Occupying the former Globe Mills flour mill complex, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles presents art exhibitions, events and learning activities which connect with the local community in a vibrant architectural space. This February, Hauser & Wirth will expand its Los Angeles presence by opening a second location in West Hollywood. Located at 8980 Santa Monica Boulevard, the new gallery will be housed in the site of a former vintage automobile sales showroom housed in a Spanish Colonial Revival style building and will complement the Arts District venue.

Film Credits

Concept and Script – Paul McCarthy

Directed by – Paul McCarthy, Damon McCarthy

Produced by – Damon McCarthy, Alexis Hudgins

Line Producer – Karen McCarthy

Post Production Sound Design and Editing – Damon McCarthy

Cinematography – Damon McCarthy, Naotaka Hiro, George San Vargas

Audio – Dean S Lee


Paul McCarthy – Walt Paul

Elyse Poppers – White Snow, Red

Aiden Ashley – White Snow, Yellow

Charlotte Stokely – White Snow, Blue

Jack Spralja – Bashful

Marc McHone – Doc

Trevor Rounseville – Dopey

Michael Villar – Grumpy

Michael Sielaff – Happy

John Drue Worrell – Too Happy

Joseph Carl White II – Sleepy

Randy Tobin – Sneezy

Eric Manuel – Humpey (Humper)

Prince #1 – Josh Rivers

Prince #2 – Jay Smooth

Prince #3 – Richie Calhoun

WS Presentation Installation

Damon McCarthy, Alex Stevens, Brian Young, Dylan Huig, Erick Wilczynski, Jeremiah McCarthy, Jorge Montano, Lancel Reyes, Landon Wiggs, Lee Randle, Michael J Gonzales, Molly Tierney, Sean Townley, Sid Dueñas, Trevor Rounseville

Image Caption: Paul McCarthy, Installation view of WS White Snow, 2011–2013, Artist’s studio, Los Angeles, CA. Wood, steel, foam, mulch, artificial foliage, lights, various materials. 35’H x 141′ x 148′ © Paul McCarthy. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joshua White

LAND’s 2023 exhibitions are made possible with lead support from the Offield Family Foundation, the Jerry and Terri Kohl Family Foundation, and The Perenchio Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Department of Arts and Culture, the LA Arts Recovery Fund, Brenda Potter, the Wilhelm Family Foundation and LAND’s Nomadic Council. Special thanks to Artist Sponsors Karen Hillenburg, Liana Krupp, Abby Pucker, Ben Weyerhaeuser, and the Poncher Family Foundation.

LAND is a member-supported organization. Support LAND’s free, public programming by becoming a member today.

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