In Knockdown Dash by Nicole Capps + James McCarthy and Broken Ground by John Hulsey + collaborators, the artists draw on their personal experiences to explore structural concerns.
In Broken Ground, Hulsey presents four projects that attempt to make visible the conflicted histories of land, property and development in Southern California. As Hulsey writes, “Los Angeles in 2017 is a city dotted with construction zones. Developers’ signs boost future building plans while construction crews break ground on new mixed-use projects, all while the city’s affordability crisis deepens and displacements continue.
What is driving this new wave of development, and why is our economy so reliant on this form of growth? How is the current boom an extension of a much longer history, and what are the relationships between development, colonization, and westward expansion in the California landscape?” Each project approaches these questions from a specific place, both personally and politically charged. In Mar Vista, where his grandparents moved in 1945, he replaced developers’ signs with poetic interventions that speak to the layered experiences of place and displacement.
Looking to the past, Hulsey and collaborator Matt H. Mayes engaged the failed socialist experiment at Llano del Rio in the Antelope Valley—creating sculpture and text that explore the tension between past and present or “the dream of the commune turned into the dream of the gated community.” In another work, Hulsey and collaborator Alejandro Dobie-Gonzalez engaged with community activism surrounding The Reef, a $1-billion development near Downtown Los Angeles, in order to extend the site’s contestation. Drawing on his work with groups like City Life/Vida Urbana, Hulsey sets up occasions that render the crisis of place audible and visible.