March 9, 2013 SATURDAY NIGHT
VISUAL Shop 3524 Adams Ave San Diego, CA 92116
With wheatpaste art & paintings by Tijuana artists: 1102, Panca, and Spel
Teodora Craft beer by Francisco J. Garcia of Studio 2287, Tijuana
The concept of my exhibition is to explore—through my photos— “that which remains” in the alleys of Tijuana. Often, graffiti writers arrive at a spot to paint, they paint, and they leave, and they don’t come back again. “That which remains” can be the remembered image, the photograph, or a video of painting, or even the stories we tell and continue to tell. In this way, “that which remains” links space and time—the past, present and future of a space remains inscribed on the wall. The photograph participates in the history of these urban spaces, documenting these ephemeral expressions of everyday life.
The name of the exhibition “Tijuana Alley Art,” gestures to the forgotten spaces of the city, more often than not considered dead spaces, without value, dirty and abandoned.
Norman Klein, a Los Angeles urban historian, identifies these empty spaces as “phantom limbs.” The phantom limb is the perception that an amputated limb of the body is still connected. The subject feels physical sensations, as though the limb is still functioning along with the rest of the body.
Klein notes that the traces of the past function like phantom limbs: these “dead” urban spaces continue to provoke stories, personal histories, mythologies—histories that are incited by the very absence of what once was there. Thus, these spaces and what remains there point in two directions: first to the past, bearing witness to once thriving, vital communities. And secondly, to the future, as those of us who wander through these spaces create new communities and find new uses for the walls and sidewalks and alleys.
“The “phantom limb” is often an empty lot where a building once stood, perhaps on Sunset Boulevard. Scraps of lathe and facade mix in piles with broken brick. The foundation is momentarily a ruin, like a photo of someone’s toothless mouth held wide open. The grading left by the bulldozer’s form ridges along the dust. It seems that if you could simply rest your ear close enough to the point where the blades have sheared away the joists, there might be the faint echo of a scream, or a couple talking at breakfast. Your imagination tries to see those people, based on the evidence, but doesn’t find enough at first. A car passes. Someone watches through the windshield for an instant, as it they knew who used to live here. But no conversation is supposed to take place. The cars graze at the light, and disappear.”
It has been said that the streets and best galleries of the city. In fact, the alleys of Tijuana’s downtown are living galleries, the art is painted over, and new images appear. Paintings on the wall and those that are erased still exist together in our memory, in history, in our stories.