Friday, June 27, 2014

Edgar Arceneaux, 107th Street Watts, Frankfurt: Revolver Archiv fur Aktuelle Kunst, 2003, ed. 1000

The review below is an excellent summary of this publication and since it's credited to Umbrella magazine, I can only assume that Umbrella's editor, Judith Hoffberg (1934-2009) wrote the piece. Either way it gives me the opportunity to remember a fervent supporter of artists' book who recently passed away.  

Edgar Arceneaux, 107th Street Watts with essays by Charles Gaines, Lynell George and Vincent Johnson (English); 15 x 20 cm, 48 pp., 50 ill., leporello and text booklet in fold-out box (Special edition available. See Editions.) ISBN 3-934823-82-3

“107th Street, Watts by Edgar Arceneaux is a conceptual photographic project shot in the dense historic battleground of Watts, California. “Part of the trajectory of the project and the ideas that have led to its genesis and ultimately its fulfillment, include a desire to produce a number of strong visual counter arcs to a relentlessly mediated social space, as well as a desire to ignite a critique of the narrow histories of Los Angeles’ provocative past. Another aspect of the project, that of expanding the traditional subjects of Southern California artistic practices was to photograph an area of the world both known and also viewed globally through a singular event in its history.” In this case it was Watts and the Watts riot of 1965 and this is an excerpt from the essay, Watts at Sunset” by Vincent Johnson for this book project. Simulating the format of mapping the “Sunset Strip” of 1966 by Ed Ruscha, this bookwork formally mimics the Ruscha book by shooting every building on 107th Street (the location of the historic Watts Towers) in a 7-foot photomontage. The book actually has only one page folded into an accordion, allowing the reader to open and pull it completely out for an undisturbed viewing from end to end. Printed in an edition of 1000, the bookwork is enclosed in a small rectangular box and includes 3 essays by writer Lynell George of the Los Angelees Times and artist/writers Charles Gaines and Vincent Johnson in a separate accordion book. The essays act to contextualize the photographs and also attempt to bridge the voice of the virtual non-existence of any writing about Watts not focused on the riots of 1965. The book seems to want to broad the discourse around the photographic history of Los Angles and become a historical record of Watts. In this, it succeeds admirably.” (Umbrella, 12/2003) 

The panoramic photowork book is 18 pages each of them 6" x 7.5" (H) and fully extended its 9 feet. The text-based book is 20 pages, 
6" x 7.5" (H) and fully extended 10 feet.
The two books that make up the publication, one is the photographic panorama and the other features assorted texts related to the work.

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