Jan 15, 09:17 am
L.A. on Fire Catalogue available now
L.A. on Fire Catalogue available now through Wilding Cran Gallery
Curated by Michael Slenske
“Los Angeles has an amazing crisis on its hands—many of the palm trees that dot the landscape and have come to iconically symbolize Southern California are nearing the end of their natural lifespan and are literally dying or disappearing. Planted in the 1930s as part of the boosterism craze, these ornamental, non-native and disastrously water demanding trees, which neither provide shade nor fruit, will not be replanted once they finally go. Running at an unaffordable $20K a pop to replace, Los Angeles County will be planting the more affordable native oaks instead. Imagine the LA landscape not dotted by the ubiquitous palm tree?
For LA-LIKE: Prospecting Palm Fronds, I have mapped, collected and ultimately bronzed dozens of discarded palm fronds from all over Los Angeles, each titled for the intersection where it was collected. The 40-50 lb. bronzed fronds are specifically made with a lost wax process—which means that the original raw palm frond is covered in wax, then concrete, and then gets burned out/destroyed in the process and replaced with, in this case, bronze. In a photographic sense that is really exciting because the bronze actually becomes the palm frond.
In a term I’ve coined, the Imagiatic (as opposed to the Photographic), the medium doesn’t really matter—the imaginary, the image, all the intangible ideas that traditionally lived within photography as a representational medium, no longer need to be bound by them. It is inspired by a photographic impulse, a documentary impulse even, but it no longer needs to exist within a photographic realm.
Thus these bronzed palm fronds—these ephemeral objects that are disappearing almost overnight and cast in a material that lasts forever— solidly sit within my conceptual realm of misremembered mapping of the imaginary of Los Angeles, a sort of pre-archiving of the death of Los Angeles. It is informed by a documentary impulse, has a bizarre relation to the Real, but is no longer bound by the photographic. It’s beyond anything photographic, it’s basically what photography only ever wishes it could be in terms of archiving. No matter how close I photograph L.A., I can never get it this close. “
- Zoe Crosher