The Most Beautiful Spot in Downtown, Los Angeles, 2002

Kurator Jens Hoffmann did “A Show that will show that a show is not only a show” for The Project, a gallery space in downtown LA. I contributed with “The most Beautiful Spot in Downtown.” It was a street performance, in which I dressed up as a landscape painter with portable easel and oil colors. On the first day, I depicted a random spot in the center of downtown, using the oil and canvas. This activity naturally generated a curious crowd, which I confronted with the question: “Where is the most beautiful spot in Downtown?

All conversation was retold in my own words on a tape recorder immediately after having taken place. The next day I moved the easel to a spot which had been described to me as the most beautiful. This new location attracted different crowds, who would then direct me to other favorite spots. During 5 days, 5 paintings were created along with an audio tape with a variety of opinions on downtown LA, seen from the perspectives of a wide range of people.

Downtown LA is a quite small area shared by all kinds of social classes, from the homeless people living on Skid Row to the wealthy CEOs in their corporate headquarters in the penthouse offices in the highrises. The perfomance addressed the social differences and how their are revealed in the way people regard “the others”, their way of life, and their sites of dwelling.

The project is designed to deal with the complex social reality of downtown, in which it is next to impossible to achieve contact with passers by, if you’re an undefined individual. The painter identity, by adopting a stereotype identity, was able to throw people off guard. Rather than having trouble getting in contact, I suddenly was swarmed by people who wanted to get in contact with me.

The paintings and the audiotape were exhibited in The Project. The outcome was a poetic mediation of the concept of beauty and the conception of downtown by downtown’s own users, as well as a critique of the mirage stereotype artist genius endowed with the power to define beauty.

Please browse the photos of the paintings here.

The sound file can be heard if you start this video:

4th street bridge
4th Street Bridge, with LA downtown as skyline in the background.
Angels Flight
Angel's Flight
Pavement
Pavement in Downtown
Emanuel Babtist Rescue Mission, Skid Row
Emanuel Babtist Rescue Mission, Skid Row
Pershing Square
Pershing Square