Monday, January 29, 2007

Hang Trees

run up, 2002
40 x 50 inches, chromogenic print

Hang Trees / Ken Gonzales-Day

The images on this page are part of a series entitled, Searching for California's Hang Trees, or just Hang Trees, for short. They were taken over a five-year period. The series extended across other distances as well, and in photographing these sites, I traveled to nearly every county in the state of California. All of the images were taken with an old wooden Deardorff 8 x 10 camera that I bought on eBay. As straightforward as this series may be photographically, it is also part of a larger project that has come to be know as Lynching in the West.

Searching for California's Hang Trees derived from my own research into the history of lynching in California. When I started this project, few people even believed that California had a history of lynching and Western terms like, frontier justice, vigilance committee, necktie party, and kangaroo court, colored those cases that were known.

I began this project by trying to assemble the most complete record of lynching in California that I could, and I was particularly interested in discovering how nineteenth century conceptions of difference (race, creed, color, national origin, and even gender) might have obscured the fact that, when taken collectively, Native Americans, African Americans, Chinese immigrants, and Latinos, fell victim to the mob's anger more often than persons of Anglo or European descent.

Using historical records, I spent many long hours wandering in the landscape or looking for clues to the dismal past. I set out to look for, to witness, as many of the sites as I could - even knowing that many could never be found.

Lynching in the West: Los Angeles Downtown Walking Tour

This walking tour revisits places and events made infamous in the first decades of the city - a period that was colored by great social, economic, and cultural unrest. The modern city has erased much of this past, but there are still places where the old city can be found, and like a war-torn battlefield, it demands recognition for its dead.

The Tongva tribe, later called the Gabrieliños, inhabited the region for over a thousand years. The combined Spanish and Mexican periods (1769 - 1850) did not even last a century. In the 1850s, the dirt roads leading out of the old Spanish plaza were still lined with many of the same adobe homes, and families, that had built them. In these early days, the plaza was little more than a dusty patch of land whose presence was intended to symbolize civilization more than embody it.

Surrounded by prominent Latino families and some of the city's most successful entrepreneurs from Europe and the "States," it remained the city's center until the 1870s when, from such noble beginnings, these same streets would house brothels, bars, and Chinese gambling houses. Race hatred would also mark the city's first decades as cultural tensions, crime, and a fledgling legal system would each inflame and infect the plaza square.

Even in the 1850s, as visitors flooded into the Bella Union Hotel to dine on a bear that had been killed in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains, others made their way to the Montgomery Saloon where Anglos crowded in to get a glimpse at a rare necklace. The necklace was made of human ears that had once belonged to some of the regions most notorious Latino bandits. The necklace's maker remains a subject of historical debate, but one can be certain that in such fierce times, no person of Mexican or Latin American descent would have risked entering an establishment where the bloody gleam of such jewels was admired. Each of these buildings stood near the intersection of Main and Arcadia Streets.

The Tour:

This self-guided tour begins at Union Station. Once known as the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, it is located at 800 N. Alameda Avenue in downtown Los Angeles (1). The father and son team of John and Donald B. Parkinson designed this landmark building. It opened its doors in 1939 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Its design is as remarkable as the city itself, blending the Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne styles with Moorish elements.

Continue the tour...

"Walking Tour of Los Angeles Lynch Sites," Meet at Union Station: January 31, 2007, 1pm

"The Wonder Gaze: Lynching in Los Angeles," Humanities Institute, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. January 30, 2007, 7:30pm

two men were found on a tree, 2005
36 x 46 inches

Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 / Duke University Press, 2006

Ken Gonzales-Day’s Lynching in the West / Catalogue Essay for Cue Art Foundation / by Juli Carson

An Interview with Ken Gonzales-Day / The Harvard Advocate / by Jennifer Flores Sternad

Ken Gonzales-Day on Pacific Drift (89.3 KPCC)

with none but the omni-present stars to witness..., 2002
40 x 50 inches, chromogenic print

thanks ryan!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Evasions of Power

Evasions of Power Conference / March 30-31, 2007

Slought Foundation is pleased to announce "Evasions of Power," a series of roundtable discussions exploring the relations between architecture, literature and geo-politics. The proceedings will take place in Philadelphia from March 30-31, 2007 and have been jointly organized by Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Aaron Levy, and Katherine Carl, on behalf of Slought Foundation and the Department of Architecture, Penn School of Design, in conjunction with the Centre for Architecture Research, Goldsmiths College, London, the Department of Art History, University of Pennsylvania, the Department of English, University of Pennsylvania, and Eastern State Penitentiary historic site and museum, Philadelphia. Major support for Evasions of Power has been provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Departing from the usual academic convention of presenting knowledge in the form of straightforward talks or presentations, this project will include a series of roundtable discussions, debates and interventions of varying duration, with an integrated online presence.

These events reveal an array of understanding about the consequences and implications of "spatial practice" today, with presentations by distinguished artists, architects, theorists, and curators whose work explores urban zones, state borders, enclaves, and extra-territorial sites throughout the world. The conference will explore the following questions: how are questions of politics, conflict, and human rights articulated today in fields such as architecture and literary study? How is power theorized? How is power evaded? How can institutions aspire not just to accumulate power but also to evade power and certain forms of authority? What practices and forms might such an institution occupy, invent or build?

The "Evasions of Power" project contributes to an ongoing discourse about human rights, war, extra-territoriality, and political and social enclaves. "Evasions of Power" continues these efforts and will be of interest to scholars and practitioners in fields ranging from art, literature, and political philosophy, to architecture, design, and urban studies.

Evasions of Power, Session 1: Introduction (2007-03-30)
Featuring: Detlef Mertins, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Aaron Levy, Katherine Carl

Evasions of Power, Session 2: Territories (2007-03-30)
Featuring: Keller Easterling, Sanjay Krishnan, Laura Kurgan, Eyal Weizman, Manuel Hertz, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss

Evasions of Power, Session 3: Institutions (2007-03-30)
Featuring: Anselm Franke, Sarah Herda, David Kazanjian, Thomas Keenan, John Palmesino, Katherine Carl

Evasions of Power, Session 4: Interventions (2007-03-30)
Featuring: Carlos Basualdo and Jeanne van Heeswijk, Lindsay Bremner, Deborah Gans, David Ruy, Nebojsa Seric-Shoba, Teddy Cruz, Shumon Basar, Helene Furjan, Goldsmiths Centre for Architecture Research members

Samuel Weber on Networks, Netwar, and Narratives (2007-03-30)
Featuring: Samuel Weber, Catherine Liu, Peter Krapp, Eduardo Cadava, Jean-Michel Rabaté

From Pennsylvania Panopticon to Experiential Site: Eastern State Penitentiary (2007-03-31)
Featuring: Sean Kelley

Tracking Tactics and Rhetorics: Thomas y. Levin on the Vicissitudes of the Panoptic from Surveillance to Dataveillance (2007-03-31)
Featuring: Thomas Y. Levin, Eyal Weizman, Goldsmiths Centre for Architecture Research members

Military forces install a shrine, created by the Serbian Orthodox Church, on the disputed border between Serbia and Montenegro. Photographer unknown, 2005.

Thanks jbeau!

From the Slought archives:

Cities Without Citizens: Statelessness and Settlements

Rosenbach Museum Holdings, Gans and Jelacic Architecture, Lars Wallsten, Katrin Sigurdardottir, Aaron Levy

Exhibit Duration: July 08 - September 28, 2003

Cities Without Citizens, curated by Aaron Levy of Slought Foundation, juxtaposes historical materials from the Rosenbach collections with contemporary works to examine the cities, settlements and peoples of early America and illuminate how our nation's past connects with contemporary life. As a commentary on art, archiving and human rights, the exhibition re-indexes Rosenbach holdings according to four social parameters - settlement, citizenship, discipline, and liquidation. "Cities Without Citizens presents an inquisitive look at the processes and idiosyncrasies of building and liquidating a city in both early and modern times," says Levy. "How did early American settlers determine borders? How did they identify citizens versus outsiders, criminals and slaves, and further negotiate the respective freedoms and limitations of each? And how are these functions handled in modern-day contexts?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Invisible Trajectories

Invisible Trajectories: Passing Through the Inland Empire
Wignall Museum / Chaffey College
Rancho Cucamonga, California
January 22 – March 3, 2007

Everyone has a story, after all, and it's the juxtaposition and intersection of citizen's many stories that creates the truest impression of a city.
-Andrea Moed, Conversations With Maps

Inside the wrinkles of the city, spaces exist in transit have grown, territories in continuous transformation in time. These are the places where today it is possible to go beyond the age-old division between nomadic space and settled space.
-Francesco Careri

Invisible Trajectories: Passing Through the Inland Empire is a story project that was conceived almost two years ago by Claude Willey and Deena Capparelli. At that time, the two set out, with the much-needed help of Mark Tsang, to map the previously uncharted: the vast stretch of urban settlement known as California’s Inland Empire and the obscure pathways utilized by its mobile citizens. In March 2005, the group started a number of short-range reconnaissance missions from their base in Alta Loma, California, probing the various boundaries and routes that define this expanding mega-region. One year ago, the group acquired funding from the California Council for the Humanities' California Stories Initiative to further develop their working process and range of activity. Since that time, the trio has traveled the expanse of the Inland Empire, engaging directly with some of its citizens and collecting observations and sorted tales from their junkets.

The stories presented here are derived from a series of interwoven, overlapping, and intricately linked journeys. The stories are told by a group of urban travelers, their hosts, and guides, who have surveyed the vast Empire on foot and bicycle with occasional excursions undertaken via bus and automobile. Revealing the extraordinary behind the mundane, this nomadic group has sifted through their archives to reconstruct their maneuvers with maps, written excerpts, photographs, and Internet blogs. Understand that there is no beginning, middle, or end on this site. Expect only to find the fragments, lost thoughts, and vague recollections as there is no specific argument to be supported.

On the macro-level, this project was designed to document the experience of travel within the landscape of the Inland Empire, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, against the backdrop of world oil decline. Access, development, growth, and mobility are all issues of concern here, but none take center stage. This is what you get when you observe a key node in the global economy, the Inland Empire, through the eyes of those who inhabit it. The invisible trajectories of commuters, material goods, immigrants, and electronic data all seem to converge in this age of hyper-mobility. The only cohesive threads pulling all of these stories together are the close ties of mobility, stasis, and uncertainly.

Where are we going and why?

Claude Willey & Deena Capparelli
December, 2006

Find more information online at:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Camp Campaign


Camp Campaign
Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri

Exhibition: December 13, 2006 – March 31, 2007

Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri's newest project, Camp Campaign, consisted of a nation-wide campaign beginning, in New York City, with the question, "How is it that a camp like Guantanamo Bay can exist in our time?"

During the months of July and August 2006, Ayreen and Rene visited detention camps, internment camps, camping sites, and relief camps, among other types of camps in the USA. During their travel, they filmed and photographed these places, as well as the roads in-between, creating a collection of images that together show a political landscape of this country. They camped in the rural outdoors, and in metropolitan areas they camped at homes. In towns, they parked their van, which also functioned as a studio, and set-up a tent, where their campaign materials, buttons, stickers and the like were distributed. They gathered with camp people, lawyers, theorists, artists and activists. Sometimes they conducted interviews; other times, they discussed different manifestations of states of exception (government's suspension of the rule of law).

Aside from these engagements, the artists created, a website that they updated regularly during their travel. Including their writing, an anthology of reference texts, and journalistic accounts accompanied with images or podcasts of their activities, this website does more than set the campaign’s ideals and political platform. It also becomes a site where the artists openly question the project’s form, beginning from its naming, that of a campaign, and on to its efficacy.

Fear is Somehow Our For Whom? For What? + Proximity to Everything Far Away. is a map by Ayreen and Rene that traces the geographic and intellectual cartography of their project Camp Campaign. It is published on the reverse side of Art in General’s Winter INSIDE newsletter, and is distributed for free beginning in January 2007. To make this map, Ayreen and Rene took their original plan - a pristine, digital drawing that sketched the travel route that the artists would follow - and rendered their actual journey they made through the USA during the summer. But this time, the artists included a more meticulous map legend, list of relevant terms, and an index route which is a series of notations. Numbered, as to refer to a loose chronology and to operate as footnotes to the sites they visited, these notations begin in the style of travelogue but, almost immediately, move away into an intellectual journey.

While the map can be seen as a documentation piece of their travel, Ayreen and Rene’s Camp Campaign exhibition at Art in General’s Project Space takes a different stance. The exhibition is neither curated nor organized as an archive of the campaign, but instead “follows” a script of a different kind. In a way, it is about what is impending in Camp Campaign, a resolution of sorts. Here, this imminence is presented as a script that is being performed.

The script, tentatively titled, "Project for an Inhibition in New York or How Do You Arrest a Hurricane?" is a proposal authored by two artists known as RL and VL. On the one hand, this script is a program for the gallery or art installation, and on the other, it is a screenplay for a film. Yet, both of these are meta-scenarios, that is, both proposals are themselves written and formalized as a work in progress. The script is a self-reflexive text that puts into play the reality and physicality of the installation and the screenplay for a film to be shot. A copy of the script as screenplay is available at the space.

As a screenplay, the script describes the process of two artists, RL and VL, who are working out how to give form to their questions, concerns, and ideas. They are challenged by the idea of an exhibition, particularly as it relates to the themes they have been exploring. They are thinking about a possible video, but they remain undecided.

As a program, the script becomes a playful guide for what the public can expect to see in the space at different points during the time of the exhibition. The script begins at the end, with an opening for the two artists. It looks like a conventional show, with a bare space with some projections and sound accompanying it. The next day, however, the same space is transformed into the working studio for the two artists and the public is invited to an unfolding process, an alternative scenario or proposal for an exhibition.

Ayreen’s and Rene’s campaign materials - both the promotional or documentary materials they produced - now become a part of the materials inside the RL and VL’s studio. The space contains unedited film/video footage, photos, slides, materials for building a model, plans, drawings, and other objects related to their trip through the US as well as other journeys the artists took in exploring their theme. These materials and how they are arranged in the space change according to the script.

The dependence to the script in order to construct the installation, activate it, and even experience it, is due, in part, to the project's own syntax, formally, the "as if" that is necessary to describe it and that signals to the overlapping of the conditional and hypothetical reality of the work. In other words, making or experiencing the exhibition as if it were a work in progress by the artists RL and VL is one way of engaging with the script; the installation suggests a fiction, the activity of those two absent artists whose materials are there to be worked upon, on a different level, by both them and its audience.

While the Camp Campaign trip is the main aspect of Ayreen and Rene's project, and the website one of its public manifestations, the publication of the map and the exhibition at Art in General are two other iterations of the desires and questions which motivated the artists. Each with its own form, space and distinct public, these are continually both sites of production and exhibition provoked by a common inquiry: to question the legality, as well as the phenomenological impact, of governing principles created, historically and today, "in the name of security."

Ayreen Anastas writes in fragments and makes films and videos. Pasolini Pa* Palestine (2005), m* of Bethlehem (2003), the Library of Useful Knowledge (2002) have been shown internationally in festivals, museums and cinemas but not yet broadcast on television. The new shorter Oxford English Dictionary was published in Rethinking Marxism, Volume 16, Number 3, July 2004. She has no affection for the proclamation of victory. Troubled by any image of herself, suffers when she is named.

Rene Gabri is interested in the complex mechanisms that constitute the world around us. He works alone as well as collaboratively within the folds of cultural practice and politics. Through his involvement with 16 Beaver (, , Rene has helped organize public readings, discussions and social activities. Along with Erin McGonigle and Heimo Lattner, he also works under the name e-Xplo (, which has resulted in a variety of public art projects exploring social, economic and political forces.

Collaborative works and projects by Ayreen and Rene have emerged through their extensive work together at 16 Beaver ( Their recent text, audio, web and video works have focused on the evolving legal and discursive shifts around different notions of security and the subsequent effects on everyday life.

Camp Campaign by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri is commissioned by Art in General.