A peformance installation produced by Zachary Tate Porter, Christina Novakov-Ritchey, and Mari Beltran.
One Night Stand–Los Angeles (ONS-LA) // May 20, 2017 // Curated by Jennifer Bonner, Volkan Alkanoglu, and Kyle Miller
The Palos Verdes Peninsula is defined by both its natural beauty and its physical barriers. Situated alongside a scenic coastline, the neighboring cities of Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates contain many streets that are privately owned with vehicular and pedestrian access controlled through a series of gates. The planning for this region began in the early 1920s, when a team of landscape architects representing the Olmsted Brothers traveled from Brookline, Massachusetts to survey the coastal terrain and design a new community from the ground up. Yet, while the Olmstedian landscape is often associated with democratic and egalitarian values, it has been converted into a luxury aesthetic on the peninsula. It is a landscape of contradiction. There are diverse landforms but homogenous populations, expansive views but restricted entry, ineffable beauty but invisible labor. Yet, something else lies beneath the surface of this surreal tranquility. As the site of three ancient landslides, the Palos Verdes Peninsula is home to some of the most unstable terrains in the world. Here, the geological intertwines with the social, the cultural and the economic, resulting in a complex weave that embodies contemporary theorizations of the Anthropocene.
Labors of Landscape is a collaborative performance installation produced by Zachary Tate Porter, Christina Novakov-Ritchey, and Mari Beltran. Combining historiographic, literary, and performance-based methodologies, the project revises traditional conceptions of the picturesque landscape through an exploration of materiality and labor. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, located twenty-five miles south of Los Angeles, operates as the connective thread throughout the installation’s various components. Its history is revisited in Porter’s archival artifacts and Beltran’s narrated text, both of which highlight the role of Stella Obst, a long-time secretary for Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and the only female employee to participate in the Olmsted’s Palos Verdes excursion. Novakov-Ritchey’s durational performance, on the other hand, explores the materiality of dirt and its concomitant labor practices in present-day Palos Verdes. While there are numerous conceptual overlaps between Porter’s archive, Beltran’s text, and Novakov-Ritchey’s performance, no effort is made to collapse these individual components into a single entity. Instead, the installation seeks to discover what resonances occur when these separate works share a common space.