Boundaries provide us the physical and conceptual framework to delineate the idea of “self” from “other” and “here” from “there”. However boundaries contain an inherent paradox; as political theorist William E. Connolly succinctly suggests, “Boundaries provide pre-conditions of identity, individual agency, and collective action; but they also close off possibilities of being that might otherwise flourish. Boundaries both foster and inhibit freedom; they both protect and violate life.”
Mario Ybarra Jr.’s large installation examines his neighborhood in Los Angeles’ Harbor Region that is rife with these contradictions. The life of the region’s economy is dependent on global trade and the petroleum industry that provides a means of subsistence for many of its residents – where class boundaries become heightened and residents inhale the deathly effects of the localized economy. Gloria Galvez’s video examines the contradictions embodied by a particular wall in her neighborhood that divides public from private yet provides a locus for unity and resistance. Boundaries of space and time are collapsed by Sandy Rodriguez’s landscape painting using traditional and indigenous pigments to map the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriel Mountains – a painting that includes a mapping of state sanctioned violence from the colonial period to the present.
The history of Los Angeles’ human geography and its constructed boundaries is even more complex. Native Americans settled in the Los Angeles Basin in 500 BCE. In 1781, eleven families of African, Native American, and European descent settled in the area from Spanish-controlled Mexico. Since its founding, Los Angeles (El Pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles) has always been a hybrid, intersectional, space, with diverse peoples from many parts of the world. The work of iris yirei hu breaks these historic and cultural boundaries of Los Angeles by exploring women-centered, intergenerational, and transcultural transmissions through objects and sounds; Umar Rashid’s paintings reimagine Los Angeles’ colonial past, obscuring the boundaries between history and fantasy; and Sandra de la Loza performs and documents the vestiges Los Angeles’ early transportation infrastructure that helped create/perpetuate Los Angeles’ early race and class divisions.
In addition to the natural and traditional human geography (such as neighborhoods), the artists assembled in Here investigate Los Angeles’ internal physical and conceptual boundaries, the bridges in-between, and permeability of these boundaries. Here explores these localized frictions, the hybridity and fluidity of Los Angeles, to uncover these bounded and unbounded landscapes within Los Angeles.
Here features works by Heimir Björgúlfsson, Sandra de la Loza, Gajin Fujita, Gloria Galvez, iris yirei hu, Annetta Kapon, Patrick Martinez, Jane C. Mi, Alison O’Daniel, Renée Petropoulos, Nancy Popp, Umar Rashid, Sandy Rodriguez, Anna Sew Hoy, Fran Siegel, Henry Taylor and Mario Ybarra Jr.