Scanning Through Landscapes, 2008–2010
Installation view, Rehabilitation, WIELS, Brussels, 2010
2 slideshows accompanied by a soundtrack, 3 photographs
22 x 28 cm / 40,5 x 50,5 cm / 40,5 x 50,5 cm
Duration 21 min 25 sec
The work Scanning Through Landscapes materializes itself as a double slide projection with a soundtrack, a voiceover and a series of photographs.
The work revolves around a site in Los Angeles called Elysian park, a wilderness behind downtown Los Angeles. Hidden in the hills of the park a small settlement established in the beginning
of 1900’s called Chavez Ravine used to exist. The area was mostly populated by Mexican Americans. In the 1950’s, they were slowly but forcefully evicted, with the promise that they would be re-housed. At the time, the settlement was considered slum housing and the city was worried that it had no control over the area. A more idealistic proposal in the 1930’s was to re-house the settlers in apartment houses designed by the architect Richard Neutra, but in the late 1940’s, the era of Mc-Carthyism, social housing was considered socialist and was cancelled. The city failed its obligations to re-house and compensate the settlers according to the law and instead sold the land to build Dodger Stadium on top of the settlement. Some of the houses left abandoned on the site were later recycled and used in the movie set of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, based on the famous novel about social and racial injustice in America.
The slide projections and photographs consist of 2 tracks. One takes the viewer on a journey through the wilderness of the present day park by two males figures. The other shows the handling of archival material from the site, plans and photographs from the time of the settlement when it still existed and when the eviction took place. The soundtrack and the voiceover dramatizes the history of the site in a montage of different sources: film noir soundtracks, excepts from the book To Kill a Mockingbird, excerpts from a New York Times article of the making of the film, first hand observations from the time of the settlement and writing on the present day reality of the site.
The work investigates the history of the place, excavating the actual site, looking for potential traces left behind. It peers into a history of social and racial injustice commonplace in the urban planning of Los Angeles. The work examines how history is erased and rewritten and in this case reused by the Hollywood film industry.