Monday, September 29, 2008

artist statement that goes with image...

i made the following piece a few weeks ago for a show about california history. thought some might want to read the statement to give it some context:

For many, the physical environment of California, and in particular its predilection for earthquakes, evokes mystery and uncertainty. Without warning, an earthquake has the capacity to completely ravage and disrupt the landscape; the fissure is at once erasing and revealing.

This piece recollects the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which, in its fifteen-second duration, caused considerable damage and fatalities throughout the Bay Area. One of the most significant areas of destruction was the Cypress Section of the 880 Freeway in West Oakland which collapsed, destroying the freeway and killing over forty people. Beginning in the late 1880's, the story of West Oakland has been one of laborers and immigrants moving in to the area to work on the railroad, on World War I or II related work, or in the shipyards. Following the Depression and World War II, West Oakland has been characterized by unemployment, poverty, and urban blight. Since its construction in the fifties, this portion of the 880
bisected this historically low-income area of Oakland, leaving its' residents further isolated from downtown Oakland and their histories lost.

Just as fault lines are present but imperceptible until they shift, elements of societal unrest often reside undetected: issues such as class, race, and gender exist below the surface until revealed by some friction. The image of this freeway collapse acts as a
metaphor for these buried yet ever-present problems; issues which can lead to upheaval, but are often issues connected to poor, and thus, forgotten communities. The image of this damaged structure is an elegy to West Oakland's
unknown narratives, to its inhabitants minimized due to their ethnicities and class, and finally, to the lives that were lost on the Cypress in October of 1989.

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