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Sighted Art Spaces  SAS   2016


LOS ANGELES, CA – Sighted Art Spaces, a series of sited installations by Allen Tombello, offers viewers a lens on the transformation of L.A.’s urban landscape from five vantage points: a drained fenced-off reservoir, a busy intersection, a paved river, a commercial development, and a demolished house.


The series begins with an installation at Silver Lake Reservoir on March 13th 4:00pm. Each month, Tombello will unveil a new Sighted Art Space (SAS), and each SAS will remain on view as long as the environment allows.


Sighted Art Spaces is Tombello’s reflection on the cultural and physical construct of the architectural pavilion, with its panoptic relationship to a landscape, as well as the pavilion’s most recent cultural mutation: the art shack, whose site lines are turned inward toward the work it contains. Tombello sees the shack and the pavilion as effectively the same experience: both proffer an aesthetic moment, yet both have an essentially arbitrary relationship to their sites.


Sighted Art Spaces turns the idea of the pavilion/art shack as a “sighted environment” inside out. Extending past ideas of Asher and Grahm, the SAS 1-6 builds upon pavilions as social, subjective, political, economic and spiritual spaces. Pressed up against zones marked by foreclosures and demolitions as well as commercial and residential development, each SAS “provides not just a ‘view’ but a lens to contemplate the conditions and characteristics of a particular locale in a deeper social and historical context,” Tombello says. “A SAS explores and develops ideas and materials in specific surroundings.” The SAS project provides an exciting way to de-laminate the cultural contradictions of Los Angeles while simultaneously fostering encounters escapes and focus fracture with the dense signifier that is site.


For instance, the inaugural SAS converts the chain-link fence that frames the drained Silver Lake Reservoir into a viewfinder. It functions as an inverted, fissured panopticon with sight lines provided by the Silver Lake neighborhood.


Subsequent SAS projects will be located in the Wilshire corridor (April), Los Angeles River (May), Pacific Design Center (June) and Bernard Street (July).



PLOT  433 Bernard St, Los Angeles  2013


The globe shrinks for those who own it; for the displaced or the dispossessed, the migrant or the refugee, no distance is more awesome than the few feet across borders or frontiers. - Homi Bhabha


To locate the outline of the foundation 433 Bernard Street, scan the land closely. The foundation lies just below the scuff of weeds and the dry shrubs that fill the lot like brown green scabs. Small amounts of concrete foam up in narrow sharp crests describing a space: a floor plan that no longer exists. The land has a five degree slope and house apparently had a setback of five feet along the sides and fifteen feet in the front and back, as is required by city building codes. "Desire paths" can be found as shortcuts where constructed pathways take a circuitous route; one bisects the lot diagonally, created by neighbors needing a shortcut to get to and from homes, buses, and jobs. A typical amount of random refuse is caught in the grass and forms its own map of the indiscriminate.


An empty lot is a negative space that hovers between a barren plane, an area already congesting with activity, and a site where a future structure is in abeyance. The land includes scars, traces and ghostings. The state of affairs of the land - the flattened bleached earth, its markings, inscriptions and phenomena - form a site a where various forces and confluences play out. The site orientated installation of plot begs questions: Does the body of land, like the figure, retain a memory of the other? The scars where development has left its inscription inform past as well as present identity. Is there some texture of thereness lost or local fabric unseamed by the foreclosure and demolition of the structure? The structure is certainly retained in the memory of those who used it, just as the land clearly retains the stirration of geology and the bruises of construction. While the plot now shows the practical face of the deterritorialized site, literally flattened to ease the play in the board game of property and capital, it is already beginning to host new flows and possibly the beginnings of new networks.


The gesture now occurring within the Plot is an addition of a thin sheet of chaulk powder, which stimulates both a depth and breadth, an accretion of meaning as well as consideration of oppositions of time, use and identity. An artist is going rhizomatic here. Uncanny in its presence, the diaphanous layer of chalk powder  is spread within the parameters  of the former foundation. The powder creates a flat depthless plane out of nonexistent floor plan of the demolished residence. The chalk marks and ghosts the zone of "the once was," forcing us to reconsider the demolished house's absence. The powder plane within the lot overlaps the desire path. When people who use the desire path cross through the chalk, the path will be redrawn and their traffic will extend the boundaries of the plane beyond the bounds of the lot on to sidewalks and streets. When a participant crosses this through the plot they recreate a temporal spacial plane. Participants cross and join through from one type of time, use, and meaning to another, thereby encouraging the sustained suture of contrarieties along an enlightened plane and path of flows: a relational specificity.



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