Curators Kóan Jeff Baysa and Bernard Leibov selected about 15 artists and collaborators to create installations for the 2nd edition of the Joshua Treenial, which opened the first weekend of April and today we have one of the artists who showed his work, Street Artist Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama. An initiative to educate about ecological issues in the desert – as well as an attempt to stir up cultural tourism, the organizers chose the title “Event Horizon” this year. The title is a tellingly foreboding spacetime term that here is referring to environmental disasters now nearing the point of no return. Nearby the Salton Sea already has passed that point. (see video at end)
Using his wheat-pasted photographic works on walls to summon the sky and clouds, he hangs a translucent panel from the skylight and watches it dance in the breezes, invoking the life that once was in this abandoned home, revitalizing a moribund space.
Here Chip talks about his installation in the 3 walled structure built half a century ago and how this public/private installation came to be.
By Chip Thomas
I went to Joshua Tree in January 2017 to select a site for my work and to collect source photos. After prepping the work over a couple weeks I returned in March and worked for a solid week to install the project – through some of the most intense winds.
The site chosen has an interesting history. In the 1940s there was a land grant/homesteading movement where people were given a tract of land on which they had to build a home of a minimum size within 5 years of getting the land. Many of the people who took advantage of this program were citizens of Los Angeles who liked to get away to the Mojave Desert. Now there are scores of abandoned, small homes slowly returning to the earth.
One of the things I feel good about with this project is having had an opportunity to reactivate an abandoned space. Blake Simpson, who owns the property where the abandoned house is, said that he’s not been in the house for over 10 years.
After the original tenants moved out the house became a squat. When I began working there was one old sofa that had been infested by mice with mouse nests in two of the corners of the house. Now Blake plans to use the space as a place for community gatherings and art making and performance.
Here’s an excellent primer on this subject of the homestead structures by an artist who has documented many of the jackrabbit homes.
The Salton Sea: The Accidental Sea
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