Los Angeles is about to hit peak summer—time to hit the beach, charm a friend of yours who mysteriously has a pool, or figure out any other way to cool off! The city of Los Angeles’ department of Cultural Affairs is ready to make a splash with its first public art biennial, appropriately titled CURRENT:LA Water. The month-long exhibition—opening July 16 and continuing though August 14—connects this city’s vast neighborhoods and addresses critical issues of social practice.
Sixteen artists (full list below) will present new, temporary art projects that relate to the theme of water. Los Angeles has long been guilty of perpetual overuse of the resource. And, it is a timely subject considering that we are in one of California’s worst droughts in history.
The art installations are located in 15 parks and public sites throughout the city, from the LA River to the Port of LA to Hansen Dam and more (you guessed it) waterside areas. So, what is CURRENT:LA Water going to look like? We have no idea! The artworks have been revealed to no-one and we eagerly await their display. What we do know is that the roster of CURRENT artists are as free flowing as the City’s water infrastructure. From the participatory, musically-driven performances of Lucky Dragons to the international giant of political conceptualism, Mel Chin, the artists range in demographics and styles, with some surprises. Candice Lin’s typically more conventional gallery installations with sculpture and film and Gala Porras-Kim’s practice involving abstract social anthropology might seem to go of course from the environmentally-charged nature of the biennial. But given the unchartered waters CURRENT is sailing, all the art we’re going to see/experience is predictably going to be unpredictable.
So even if you don’t have any friends with pools, you’ll be covered with access to free, public art this summer. Float on.
Refik Anadol & Peggy Weil
UnderLA: 1st Street Bridge
Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, and August 13 and 14, from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Historic 1st Street Bridge – East 1st Street between Santa Fe Avenue and Mission Road, Downtown LA, 90033
UnderLA: Origin of the LA River
Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Origin of the LA River – 6883 Owensmouth Avenue, Canoga Park, 91303
UnderLA uses scientific data generated from LA’s aquifers—layers of porous rock capable of holding and transmitting water—to create a site-specific projection for the 1st Street Bridge and the Origin of the LA River. (#underlawater / underlawater.com).
The CENTER of the EARTH
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Artist Q&A on Saturday, July 16, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, 2657 Motor Avenue, West LA, 90064
Edgar Arceneaux appropriates minimal forms often seen in drinking fountains found in public spaces to create a different fountain of sorts. The CENTER of the EARTH draws parallels between the use of altars and water in religious and everyday contexts. As an extension, Arceneaux’s work considers the below-ground transit of water and the above-ground ideologies of the people that regulate it.
Josh Callaghan & Daveed Kapoor
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
South Los Angeles Wetlands Park, 5413 South Avalon Boulevard, South Los Angeles, 90011
Collaborators Josh Callaghan and Daveed Kapoor’s Mothership is a large-scale sculpture comprising a mast, sail, and rigging that rises out of the South LA Wetlands Park’s landscape. The work addresses California’s colonial history and the vestiges of its destructive legacy; in doing so, Mothership occupies a position as both a cultural marker and an architectural feature that provides shade for park visitors.
The TIE that BINDS: the MIRROR of the FUTURE
Thursday through Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to Sunset (gates close at 9:00 p.m.).
The Bowtie, 2780 West Casitas Avenue, Glassell Park, 90039
Mel Chin reimagines the 18.6 acres that make up the Bowtie—an area adjacent to the LA River, near where the 5 and 2 freeways meet—with a new landscape of native, drought-tolerant plants. Visitors can take home a list of the plants needed to create a “mirror garden” in their yards or community gardens. Those who do will also receive a limited edition blueprint of the project.
See Event Calendar for details and visit the-tie-that-binds.org for related programs and events.
New Weather Station
July 31 to August 14, 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Weekend events on July 31, and August 11, 13, and 14. See Event Calendar for details.
Norman O. Houston Park, 4918 South La Brea Avenue, Baldwin Hills, 90008
The Los Angeles Department of Weather Modification is a performing group that collaborates with Southern California communities to address weather, water, and the evolution of the arid city. During CURRENT:LA, the group is headquartered at New Weather Station, a 20-foot open-air geodesic dome hosting a series of events featuring LA-based artists, designers, historians, urbanists, chefs, and thinkers exploring the intersection of water and weather modification.
A Hard White Body
Daily from 3:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Westside Neighborhood Park, 2999 Clyde Avenue, West Adams, 90016
Candice Lin’s sculpture appropriates water filtration and microbe growth to consider how the power of small beings disrupts social hierarchies. By using bacteria found in kombucha as an active collaborator, the sculpture highlights the presence of bacteria in our environment as well as our continued vulnerability and dependence on it in order to live.
Lucky Dragons (Luke Fischbeck & Sarah Rara)
Monday through Friday, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Bee Canyon Park, 17307 Sesnon Boulevard, Granada Hills, 91344
Mimicking the unstable nature of water, Lucky Dragons creates a series of unique performances at Bee Canyon Park in which characters uncover a new set of instructions and resources each weekday afternoon to engage visitors and respond to LA’s water infrastructure.
The Spreading Ground
Saturday, July 23 and 30 evening open rehearsals. Saturday, August 6 and 13 evening performances. See Event Calendar for details.
Hansen Dam, 12272 Osborne Street, Pacoima, 91342
The Spreading Ground is a month-long series of workshops designed for public participation–with the understanding that the denizens of LA are dynamically bound together by water. These workshops culminate in a musical score derived and performed by Lucky Dragons and The Spreading Ground participants.
La Sombra (The Shade)
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Echo Park Lake, 1698 Park Avenue, Echo Park, 90026
With the assistance of volunteers from all over the city, Teresa Margolles washed over 100 public spaces where lives were taken over the course of the past year in LA. Collecting and using the water from each cleaning, Margolles erects a memorial to the victims of that violence. The work also offers an area of respite for visitors to rest, meditate, and reflect at Echo Park.
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Artist’s Talk on Monday, July 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
South Weddington Park, 10798 Bluffside Drive, Studio City, 91604
Working with an American vernacular used in fountains and parks, Kori Newark presents a sculpture of horses installed in a trench. The work responds to the drought via exaggerating the concavity of fountains and addresses cultural boundaries present in parks and public places.
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Point Fermin Lighthouse Tours Tuesday through Sunday at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.
Point Fermin Park, 739 West Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, 90731
Michael Parker builds an arch that frames the ocean views of the San Pedro bluff to showcase the drama of Point Fermin, a site engulfed by water, sun, and the Port of LA. The arch, a collaboration with peers and developed through a dialogue between digital and analog processes, reflects the intersection of human engineering as seen in the Port of LA and the natural setting of Point Fermin.
Supplement to Ballona Discovery Park Informative Signs
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Del Rey Lagoon Park, 6840 Esplanade Street, Playa Del Rey, 90293
Gala Porras-Kim creates signage that tells the story of the Tongva burial ground that is located at the Del Rey Lagoon Park. The work draws attention to the beginnings of the wetlands and the controversial handling of the burial ground, giving viewers an opportunity to learn about a history that has been removed.
Untitled 2016 (LA Water, Water Pavilion)
Daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Special weekend events on July 16, 17, 24, and 25 and August 6. See Event Calendar for details.
Sepulveda Basin, 6300 Lake Balboa Hiking Trail, Encino, 91411
An intimate timber-frame structure houses weekly events centered on public interaction with the LA River, its users, and the surrounding urban fabric. In this project, Tiravanija employs architecture to create a juncture between people and place, creating situations that bring us closer to the river.
Daily at 8:30 p.m. Pre-screening talks with the Theodore Payne Foundation every Friday at 7:00 p.m. See Event Calendar for details.
Sunnynook River Park, LA River Bike Path, Atwater Village, 90039
Exquisite Corpse is an open-air nightly screening of a 51-minute film that traces the 51-mile Los Angeles River from its origins in the San Fernando Valley to its terminus at the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, Tribe’s camera captures its varied landscapes, neighborhoods, creatures, and communities through a string of meditative encounters that collectively describe the river at this juncture in its history.