OCTOBER 2, 2011
The Getty Center
On the night of October 2, 2011, the Getty Foundation and Getty Research Institute held a long-anticipated grand party. The occasion was the launch of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A, 1945-1980, a six-month arts initiative more than 10 years in the making. What began as an archival project had become an unparalleled exhibition and event program inclusive of more than 60 Southern California cultural institutions, featuring the work of more than 1,300 artists who had lived and worked in postwar Los Angeles.
PST advertisements enticed visitors to “celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene.” Yet before long, one of the initiative’s greatest strengths proved its declaration of not one, but multiple art scenes previously hidden from view. Suddenly the city known best for putting Conceptual art, the Light and Space movement, and the Ferus group of white male artists on the contemporary art map was diversifying and adding nuance to its narrative. Curators presented work that reflected innumerable styles and influences made by artists of varying ethnic groups, as well as artists who were female and ardently feminist.
Although the majority of participating institutions presented work in the fine arts, postwar literature, architecture and design were also warmly illuminated by PST light. Then, in January 2012, an 11-day Performance and Public Art Festival presented more than 30 performances, including “contemporary re-enactments” by renowned local artists Judy Chicago, Suzanne Lacy and James Turrell. Lita Albuquerque, an acclaimed environmental artist since the 1970s and a Graduate Art instructor at Art Center since 1987, also answered a call to revisit an earlier work.
JANUARY 22, 2012
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Despite predictions of rain, it is a sparkling winter day in L.A. Two thousand feet above Culver City, a skydiver in a red jumpsuit leaps from an airplane. Red smoke trails from her shoe, tracing her path toward Earth.
Two minutes later the diver lands, exactly hitting her mark. Waiting to greet her are approximately 300 volunteers dressed in similar red suits. As soon as she touches down, 100 of the volunteers begin their walk, creating a spiral around her. They hold onto each other’s shoulders and count aloud to keep pace, filling the space with sound in addition to color, movement and line. Soon, the remaining volunteers lead the entire group toward an immense stretch of stairs on which they will all stand, one volunteer on each of the 287 steps, for four minutes. Today those stairs connect earth and sky, each red-suited person a vertebrae in Spine of the Earth 2012.
A half hour before the performance began, Albuquerque, the only performer dressed in white, read aloud the following instructions:
The landscape is listening
This is Sunday, January 22 of the year 2012
at 11:45 a.m.
Culver City, California
United States of America
Pay attention to the feet
you extended from earth to sky
from inside the red
surrounded in blue
one vertebrae in the spine of the earth