outside, forgotten. 2017
mixed media installation
Bambusa sp. (dead, live), Portland cement, 3/8 aggregate, sand, Water: Pacific Ocean & Los Angeles River, granite rocks, nursery pots, nursery markers, drawings on glass, projections, objets trouvés from Schindler’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House and Manzanar National Historic Site.
30 x 10 m | 5.5 x 2.5 m | 25 sqm
During my MAK Center residency, I researched the culture of the private backyard garden that is inseparable from Los Angeles—I view this space as a living archive of utopian and dystopian American dreams. In the case of California, gardens mark a history of immigration and otherness, with traces of Japanese garden culture revealing themselves throughout the city. While these designs were regarded as aesthetically serene, exotic and sophisticated, they constitute projections covering up a city’s dark past.
In my installation, I refer to these ideas of garden spaces, also widely found in the internment camps of the 1940s on the West Coast of the United States. This history of Japanese-American citizens remains physically and mentally outside of forgetful Los Angeles. I investigated the gardens that formed shared social experiences constructed by internees at places like Manzanar, nestled between the forbidding Death Valley and Mount Whitney. Visitors encounter garden spaces on the property conflating and complicating the story of the mid-twentieth century mistreatment of Japanese-Americans with the impulse of Angelenos to freely appropriate elements of Japanese landscape design for private gardens.
photos: Joshua White