Last updated: December 13, 2018
Following Reyner Banham’s classic 1982 travelogue Scenes in America Deserta, this selection of essays, interviews, and historical documents locates the desert as a puzzling critical envelope for Southern California, and recasts it from a vast, lawless space to a transitional landscape of non-conformity.
On a Dark Desert Highway: The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project by Steffie Nelson
The Manifest Destiny Billboard project, co-curated by artist Zoe Crosher and Shamim M. Momin, director of LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a coast-to-coast road trip of an exhibition. Popping up along 2,000 miles of Interstate 10, ten artist-designed billboards each contribute a chapter to the story of western expansion.
Reeling in Utah: The Travel Log Trilogy by Dick Hebdige
While I was an actor in the five-day road-trip piece documented below I played no part either in choosing the destinations, planning the route or operating the vehicle. the road-trip piece was composed, choreographed and directed by JB as a 'film-with- no-film' commissioned by Afterall for the purposes of this documentation (with gas, motel and restaurant receipts retained for reimbursement). The intent was for JB to structure an experience framed by an itinerary linking sites that feature in a number of his works.
Et in Utah Erant: The Reel Works of J.G. Ballard, Tacita Dean, and Robert Smithson by Rachel Valinsky
At the end of film and at the beginning of film and at the heart of film is Tacita Dean. A pioneer of the medium at the time of its projected extinction by the accelerating rise of the digital, Dean maintains an artistic practice deeply rooted in film and its specificities. Her most recent work, JG, commissioned by the Arcadia University Art Gallery in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and recently exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, is a 26-1/2 minute, 35mm film named after the iconic science fiction writer J.G. Ballard and taking as its subject Robert Smithson’s monumental earthwork, Spiral Jetty (1970).
America Deserta Archive