Nov 15, 2009

Sandra de la Loza

i was at Otis today installing for a show organized by Robbie Herbst, and i ran into Sandra de la Loza, an amazing LA-based artist... we had a brief chat about her project, which is part of a larger series of "Declared Invisible Monuments" by the collectively-run Pocho Research Society. today she was hanging documentation of recent monuments to old Latin gay bars in east LA, whose communities have been usurped by gentrification. we talked about Wildness (apparently she's a fan!) and the fragile nature of creative scenes that involve cultural/economic mixing. having grown up in LA Sandra is veteran to the sadly familiar "dive bar turned hipster" story. (for example in my inbox this week: popular lesbian club's new location described as an "old east Hollywood tranny bar that is being converted into pure chic-ery") obviously i think about this stuff every day because Silver Platter/Wildness sometimes gets labeled as such. in fact when we do get mainstream publicity, which is kinda rare, cause we don't actively promote and officially don't talk to press, there's usually a cynical take on who "we" (wildness) are and who "they" (bar) are. the most painful characterization that comes to mind is the LA Weekly's "best tranny bar" article that came out last year, which began with (it's burned in my mind): "Finally! A crossroads convergence of self-involved, art-damaged 20-something kids and Third World gender illusionists at a water hole whose geography transcends the expanse of Silver Lake proper..." and went on to be way crazier than that.

oh btdubs you can read our response to that article when in came out here. it's kind of a huge saga that i can't get into right here and now, but at some point i will cause it has a really magical ending called the journalist actually APOLOGIZED and the LA Weekly pulled the article offline.

i guess right now, i just want to address this this idea of actually who "we" are and who "they" are, just to get the ball rolling...

we (wildness) are myself, ashland mines (aka total freedom), daniel pineda & asma maroof (aka NGUZUNGUZU). as a collective body we are 100% people of color (hapa/asian, african american, puerto rican/dominican, and east indian), 50%+ queer and trans, 75% first generation immigrant, 25%+ low income, 50% with degrees in higher education, and all under the age of 29... to try to start a useful(?) list. and the silver platter, our collaborators Koky Corral (owner), Javier Vargas, and Nicol dela Rocha, they are also 100% p.o.c. (mexican), 100% queer and trans, 2/3rds low income, and all under the age of 50... is this helpfully complicated? it's kinda making my brain spin but at the same time, i think important to try to lay out whatever factors contribute to our understanding of oppression. also to try to break apart this consolidating category of hipster. while i obviously agree that hipster is a real force of urban development, i think it's problematic to equate it with all that's cool/popular/trendy. that's one of the things that inspires me most about living in los angeles, is that there are multiple MULTIPLE accessible hott amazing social spaces that are run by and for queer people of color. and i like to imagine that wildness is one of them. just because our space looks a little more arty than some doesn't mean that we aren't people of color, and it also doesn't mean that people of color aren't entitled to be arty experimental etc. i think the bottom line is that there IS difference between us and silver platter, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact i'd say it's a really a good thing, and it is a real live actual exchange, that isn't utopian, that is full of tensions and challenges, but like it IS happening in a sustaining way, that gets mutually supported by both sides. solidarity, i believe yes. OH OH i could say so much more, but for now... how about some more...


ps. sandra's installation was lookin totally cute awesome nearby to mine which is a kind of janky neon sign that says CONVIVENCIA/COEXISTENCE... i don't have any pics yet but this was the idea and i reeeeallly don't know if it works but anyway you can pretend it looks exactly as good as da mockup

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