Beatriz Cortez

Los Angeles Vernacular:
Space Capsule Interior


July 16 – August 7, 2016

Opening Reception is Saturday July 16, 7-10pm

Los Angeles Vernacular: Space Capsule Interior evokes a multiplicity of temporalities and aesthetics. Among them, it references the Back-to-the-Land-Movement that over different generations flourished in the United States, and had important iterations in the outskirts of Los Angeles, in places like Tujunga. Stone builders such as George Harris settled there in the early twentieth-century, and began building with local materials, including river rock from the Tujunga wash. By taking industrial sheet metal and turning it into rocks, this installation also makes reference to the anti-industrialization philosophy of the early craftsman movement, which made a commitment to unique, hand crafted domestic architecture. Furthermore, it continues a syncretic tradition of construction in Los Angeles that has long served as a metaphor for multicultural coexistence, particularly as builders such as Dan Montelongo, an Apache Mescalero, mastered in the early decades of the twentieth-century the construction of homes that brought together an indigenous way of building with river rock in combination with the craftsman aesthetic. This came to be known as a vernacular style of construction that flourished in local neighborhoods such as Sunland, San Fernando, Tujunga, La Crescenta, and Pasadena. In addition, this installation evokes the hippie communes of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Drop City in Colorado, where structures were built in the form of geodesic domes with diverse materials, including recycled sheet metal, following the patented designs by Buckminster Fuller that were made available to the general public in 1966 through a publication of Popular Science magazine. It is also inspired by the design of the spacecraft Dragon series that Space-X has advertised as manned orbit vehicles for the near future. Los Angeles Vernacular: Space Capsule Interior slides back and forth from a past of local materials to a future of extinction, taking place at once within different versions of modernity, being both obsolete and innovative, a relic of the past, a model for the present, a nostalgic dream for the future.

Beatriz Cortez: is a visual artist and a cultural critic. She was born in El Salvador and migrated to the United States in 1989. She holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and a doctorate in Latin American literature from Arizona State University. Her work explores simultaneity, the existence in different temporalities and different versions of modernity, particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of immigration, and in exploration of possible futures. She has shown her work nationally in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, and internationally in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. She teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Organized by Rebecca Bennett Duke.