S2 E1: Incendiary Traces and Fallen Fruit

S2 E1: Incendiary Traces and Fallen Fruit


(Intro music playing) (Slideshow of pictures and scenes) My name is Sarah Linn. I cover arts and entertainment for the tribune
in San Luis, Obispo. Craig Russell is a Cal Poly music professor. He’s, first of all, an incredibly talented
guy. Uh, not only is he a composer, but he’s also
an instrumentalist. He has spent probably his entire career studying
what it would sound like if you walked into a California Mission in the year 1785. For Craig, um, the Fandango is kind of what
everything about living in a mission means. Uh, he said to me that the Fandango is the
musical equivalent of “All man are created equal.” It’s the one dance that everybody in the entire
mission community would participate in. You had native people, you had peasants, you
had soldiers. You know, the padres would have been there,
maybe not participating, but at least enjoying a glass of wine. Uh, a lot of our communities in California
are based around missions whether we recognized it or not. For the early Californians, a mission meant
people from different cultures coming together and starting a new culture, a new community. I feel that Craig, by writing this music and
by bringing it to the public, is trying to remind us that there was this hugely formative
period in California history. Uh, that’s kind of been forgotten today. (Ukelele music being played) (Singing in Latin) The Salinan people came and originated in
this area from the last Ice Age. We the Salinan people lived in an extraordinary
harmony that emanated from culture past from one generation to the next generation to the
next generation. We were a nomadic tribe. We wandered in our area in this beautiful
weather, and survived that way for thousands and thousands of years. (Singing in Latin) We had an interruption from other civilizations
that appeared on our horizon. What changed our culture? Why were we needing to adapt just in order
to survive? (Singing in Latin) The Franciscan Missionaries who came to California
in the summer of 1769, weren’t prepared to deal with encountering the Native Americans
of California, who were a truly remarkable, very self-sufficient people. And in fact, the padres were intruders in
their midst. And they realized that they had to reach the
people on a certain level. And this is where a mission music and mission
art comes together with it. During the Mission period, music was a lure. When a friar came to establish a Mission,
he didn’t share any words, any language, any grammar with the people with whom he found
himself. Well, the common language was music. So when a friar came and invited you to sing,
it was a sign of respect and of divinity. And those two cultures at that point resonated
because they understood that music is important and they were embarking on the same journey
to elevate the Creator. When this Mission was found in 1772, in the
ensuing decades, if I had to enter this church, we see mostly local Californians. Lot of Chumas and Salinan and indigenous first
nations people here in our church. And there were several sorts of styles of
music. Juan Bautista Sancho at Mission San Antonio
brings the full experience of European music into California initially as a religious experience
but it invariably becomes a social experience also. So it’s not a great leap from the sacred music
of the church performed in almost the strictly European style, as it gradually adapts and
changes itself to the popular music of the larger community. And he moves from the sacred to the Fandango,
to the overwhelming joy of the social celebration with music, which happened right here in this
mission garden and at every other mission garden. (Violins being played by violinists) Of all the repertoire in California Mission
period, the most important piece would have been the Fandango. And the great thing about the Fandango is
it’s–the audible musical photograph of equality, fraternity, and liberty. Basically anyone can dance the Fandango. So you could be the viceroy, you could be
the King, you could be the Duke, you could be Mutsun you could be Salinan, you could
be Chumash, you could be from Mexico. You are welcome to dance the Fandango. And it was another illustration of the equality
of California in the dance experience outside the mission which was replication of life
in the mission. (Classical music playing) I understand the Fandango was when our Native
American young maidens were brought out to the young soldiers. My lineage is from the very first recorded
marriage in California. She was a full-blooded Salinan that married
a young teenage Spanish soldier. (Classical music playing) If you look at treatises of the time, and
letters of the time, they all talk about the passion and fervor of the Fandango. It usually starts with a couple circling each
other and looking at each other, and it builds in excitement and in excitement and excitement. (Classical music playing) This idea that music unites us is a very,
very important theme. It reassures us. It tells us there is something beyond where
we are at this particular moment. Music will tell us that there is still hope,
there are aspirations, and that was translated by the padres. They saw it as a wonderful catechetical tool
that said there is more than just living, doing what you are doing now. You can hope for something better in the future. (Classical music playing) I’m Oliver Wang. My day job is as an associate professor of
sociology at Cal State, Long Beach. But I also write about art and culture. I’ve been doing so since, uh, the mid 90s,
really. I think the thing about Mike’s work that first
really struck was the fact that he was really in the right place at the right time during
this formative era in West Coast hip hop. For photographers, most record labels and
artists tend to wanna work with their own people. And so you really see the same name appear
on, you know, multiple albums. And Mike was on, you know, everyone from Coolio
to Warren G to Eazy-E to Cypress Hill. At the time at which he’s shooting, I mean,
this is, you know, LA coming right before the riots, but, you know, out of the, you
know, abandonment of the 80s, the industrialization in Los Angeles. And I think what you see in Mike’s book is
the moments leading up to that or moments of tension, uh, moments of, uh, frisson that
exists within the city. Whether it was intentional or not, that to
me gets reflected to some extent in those photographs. (Rap music being played) (Developing film photos) (Man flipping through record albums) (Man developing photos in dark room) I have a presence. I give respect. I get respect. It’s like do or die for me. I’ll push you and I’ll push you and I’ll push
you, and I could be a little bit anxious. But that anxious and that nervous energy makes
me get these images. (Rap music being played) (Man developing photos) (Man showing record albums) The first time I picked up a camera was skateboarding
my cousin’s backyard. I’ve had the Dogtown crews to come to a certain
tree in the backyard, and I would drop his plexi half pipe, and we had a transition ramp. And, uh, my uncle took photos, and they called
them, uh, blown photo, because he always missed. Uh, one time I picked up his camera, and I
took photos, and I remember him coming to me later on and saying, “You have amplitude
and altitude. You should shoot.” Beautiful. That’s it. Okay, you guys, we’re done. When I came back to the States, I came to
the agencies, knocked on a few doors, and Herbert Gehr agency decides to put me on in
1989. My first job was street ads for Vogue. And then I started getting letters from the
music label saying that, “This guy’s amazing. We’re gonna use him.” Here we go, some 2Pac, N.W.A. We’re gonna print this today. Eazy-E and 2Pac. A few months later, I guy named Skatemaster
Tate, he was like the record collector. Told me to come over, DJ Mix Master Muggs
was sitting on his couch, and we ended up talking about a new thing he’s developing
called Cypress Hill. And from there, I went to Cypress Avenue and
hung out with all the Be Real and, you know, Mellow Man Ace and all those guys were down
there, rapping, everybody. And then it just snowballed into a career
in hip hop. What’s interesting about Mike’s role in shaping
the aesthetic, the vision of what West Coast hip hop looked like in the 80s through 90s
is that the aesthetic that we see in his work is something that has become iconic in the
ways in which we think about West Coast hip hop, and LA hip hop in particular. And the aesthetic that you see is one of LA
abandon. There’s a lot of visions of abandonment, visions
of decrepitude, burnt out train yards, burnt out warehouses, deserted back alley streets. We have a very particular spatial relationship
that we associate with LA hip hop. And I think Mike’s photography certainly either
fed out of it or fed into it both ways. Curly Snoop, Too Short, Badass, MCA, Alkaholiks,
Xzibit. Here’s back when he first left the N.W.A.
with the Jheri curls, it’s kinda funny. This is a real iconic shot. This is LA right here. LA Dodger hat (UI) um, Cortez sneeks, 22 skate
that’s California right there. I was in love with N.W.A.’s first album. I mean, I must have played it hundreds of
times. When I was able to photograph Eazy-E for The
Source cover, I was a little nervous but, you know, I was just so stoked to be in the
presence of such an iconic rapper. And so as far as this shot goes, I just walked
around the neighborhood, and I saw a gigantic flag in this parking lot, so I was just like,
“Okay,” and that was it, you know. I just come up with ideas and I do them. I make them work. To me, uh, it’s one of my favorite shots I
have ever taken. (Background music continues to play.) The WC and the Maad Circle album where WC
is down at–in LA Skid Row, hobos and bums off the street are in the background. There’s something very gritty about that,
you know. WC is in a–this dirty white t-shirt. We went the night before to get the pass to,
um, shoot down on Skid Row. We ended up befriending the guy that ran the
alley, and we offered him a case of Old English, 40 ounces. So we ended up going down the next day, and
everybody pose for the shot. And the guy in the middle, holding, uh, Coolio’s
hand was the bloke–the guy that gave us a little–a little, uh, hassle before we got
the okay, but it was funny. My portfolios spoke volumes of what they were
after, that street look, that gritty look. Hammer even came to me and goes, “Make me
look hard,” you know, so I was able to, I guess, capture that rough next style. This is one of my favorite prints. You can see his fingernail polish. A lot of times, Pac, he was very quick. He gave me, like, boom, done. So it’d be, like, one frame I got. Just like this, I got three frames on this
one, where everybody seems to gravitate to this shot and go, “I grew up with that. I had posters of that.” 2Pac had such a visual charisma that–what
you see in Mike’s photography of him is both his defiant and thug life self, but also just
the remarkable charm and charisma that he had. And you can really see that reflected in there. (Background music continues to play.) (Mike rolling a poster.) Stopped at in East LA off Santa Fe, I think,
in 1994, for his album cover, volume one. The shoot right here with the thug life belly
was with the thug life crew. We were at an abandon train yard, and we were
taking photos on this old building where he’s doing the flip off as well. I pull him back, I do a couple of lighting
tricks, and it just goes dark and it looks like a studio. Great times, man. That book is amazing for me just to go back
and reflect on all the great shoots I had. Thug life, 2Pac, rest in peace. (Background music continues to play.) (Slideshow of pictures.) My name is Janet Owen Driggs. I’m an artist and a writer. I first encountered Fallen Fruit when they
were doing a fruit jam and they’ve taken their practice out, out of the gallery space into
the street, and they were making jam. Then I discovered their fruit maps and became
intrigued by the idea of public fruit. Fallen Fruit’s Del Aire Fruit Park is the
thin end of the wedge in policy terms. I think it was a real challenge for everyone
involved to bring public fruit, publicly accessible, publicly tended fruit into a public park,
and that’s something that hadn’t been done before. This is just, uh, you know, a little insertion
to have everyone be thinking about art and parks and people and food in a different way,
because what they’re saying is not–we have to strive harder to be over there. We have to run faster. We have to fight harder ’cause there’s not
enough. They’re saying there’s enough, there’s abundance. We have enough to share and give and not worry
about protecting our little corner. And I’m hoping that this will resonate and
there will be more and more changes and the wedge will drive in further, and ultimately
we will have a city where there’s public fruit and public celery and public cauliflower in
all of their unused spaces. (Music playing.) (Orange bounces.) (Three men walking and speaking indistinctly.) Uh, that on top of me. What do you think? Fill up my bag. Yeah. Fill up my bag. Fill it up. These look–these–are these Meyer? Whoa. Get down. Heads up, man. Are they? Yeah, they’re great. Here. This one is, uh, cracked so you can smell
it. Oh, wow. They’re Meyer lemons. Oh my God, it’s incredible. It smells so deliciously great. Yeah, excellent. Fruit became our operative symbol very quickly. Once we started looking at it, we realized
we had this amazing thing, which is here’s my fruit. This piece of fruit is almost always a positive
symbol. It never has a bad meaning and it is a very
universal currency among different kinds of people, different generations, different cultures,
different historical period. This is a remarkably consistent object. There’s amazing orange around the corner here. All right, let’s get some oranges. Yeah, okay. Let’s do it. We looked at our own neighborhood in Silver
Lake in Los Angeles and thought about the fruit trees we were seeing unpicked in public
space or in the margins of public space. And we were especially noticing that nobody
was walking in the neighborhood. You would get into your car and drive three
blocks to go to a grocery store to get an apple or an orange. So we saw this resource as something that
was overlooked and hidden. So we made a map, we wrote a manifesto, and
we took a bunch of great silly photographs of us picking fruit. The result of that document was the beginnings
of Fallen Fruit. (Music playing.) (Slideshow of pictures.) Fallen Fruit is a art collective, where we
look at fruit and we use fruit as a material by which we can reimagine the world around
us. We think of fruit trees as guardians of the
city in a different way. They’re something that always provides a symbol
of generosity and a sense of esthetics, a sense of warmth and community without asking
for anything back. We became very interested in the object that
we found, which is this fruit, and we–very quickly we started calling it public fruit,
which is, uh, a, kind of, funny coinage, but what we wanna talk about is property and who
does the fruit that is growing in public space belong to, and that always leads you to the
question of who’s the public. And a lot of our work has worked between those
two poles, the actual fruit and the people who use it, people who live with it, and people
who share it. One of the things that’s really interesting
about fruit trees in public space is that they exist in pretty much every city in the
world, and they are always on the edge of legality. They’re in a gray zone of law in most cities. There’s only two cities in North America that
actually have it permissible to plant fruit trees in public space, Guadalajara in Mexico
and San Francisco. I think a fruit tree is as dangerous as any
other tree is. And I don’t think they’re that dangerous. I really think that we should open our minds
to the idea that fruit trees could be beneficial. Instead of going through a drive-thru and
getting French fries, why don’t you go drive by a fruit tree and get a delicious tangerine? It’s better for you. You could get one for your friend, too, and
it’s free. Hmm, it’s really good. What is it? Orange? Hmm, no, I think it’s a tangerine. Where fruit is picked on public sidewalks,
on public rights-of-way, there’s a certain ambiguity as to who’s property in fact this
is. So while there is the general understanding
that you can simply pick fruit that over hangs the sidewalk, I think it’s not quite that
clear. That said, I don’t think land owners need
to worry that there are going to be roving bands of fruit gangs that are going to be
taking over hanging fruit, but it’s an interesting aspect of what Fallen Fruit is doing. Is it possible to start creating opportunities
and situations that transforms policy that changes the experience of a place by rethinking
what’s legal? Is it possible to create a public resource
in a public place that doesn’t want anything back from the public? What if the city was a place that was always
abundant? What if it was a place that always offered
something to you just because you’re there? The LA County Arts Commission approached us
to submit a proposal for the Del Aire Park, where they wanted a piece of public art, uh,
they wanted it to be green, they want it to serve the community. We’ve been working for many years with this
idea of making this public fruit orchard. Either using leftover space in an existing
park or plots of land in a city that just have nothing on them and planting fruit trees
there and making that a public park, making it accessible to everyone. Public art creates a sense of place. It incorporates the values of a community
into public spaces that we can enjoy for generations to come. So while this is a conceptual project, it’s
also a really practical project. People like to eat fruit. They like to make jam. They like to cooperate with their neighbors. We make art using fruit as a common denominator
to change the way that you think about the world. In the 1930s and ’40s, you saw a lot of these
massive federal work projects, and it was really tied into, sort of, this nationalistic
movement of this very powerful nation that can control nature, you know. You had single purpose projects like the Los
Angeles River, the channelization of Los Angeles River, 52 miles of concrete. And now they’re reevaluating the functionality
of the river. Yes, we can have flood control but we can
also have habitat, we can have recreational opportunities, we can have economic development. And I think people are looking at public spaces
in the same way. In the case of Del Aire Park, it was a unique
opportunity because it was a site that actually had included in part of the reconstruction
of that park, of course putting in new trees. And so we propose and promote the idea of
planting fruit trees in this park as a form of artwork. We were basically able to use the understanding
that fruit trees simply were the material by which we were working as artist. That we actually don’t make sculpture and
we don’t do stamps cement. And our messaging doesn’t need a lot of verbal
language, so we don’t need to have a mural or a testimonial. All that we really need to do is have the
organic living matter as an example. And the fruit trees would do what they naturally
do, which is make fruit, and then people will naturally do what fruit trees want you to
do to them, which is pick them. One of the hurdles Fallen Fruit had in being
permitted to do this work was to overcome the concern that work related to fruit could
fall within the area of nuisance. There’s concerns by cities or municipalities,
that if they take certain actions that this may make a hazardous condition more appealing
and therefore an unsuspecting child or even adult could put themselves in harm’s way. Uh, a child could climb a tree to pick an
apple and may fall. Whether that would happen and whether that
makes a fruit tree any more dangerous than another tree is an open question, but in our
litigious society where one sues and can be sued for a good reason, a bad reason, or no
reason at all, is a legitimate concern. Fruits never gonna argue back. It’ll never argue back with you. You can get as angry as you want with the
banana and the banana is gonna be okay with that. The county and the city and the state all
have their rules and regulations. That’s just the reality of it. That being said, there’s always creative ways
to create opportunities in parks. The work that a group like Fallen Fruit does
would fit perfectly within the mission of California state parks, because it is an art
form. It’s an educational opportunity. And what they’re doing is they’re actually
helping us to tell a story in terms of the importance of the healthy food initiative
within the state of California, which is very focused now on the childhood obesity epidemic,
and tying people into locally sourced fruit. So having groups outside of state parks who
have an expertise in that and teaching things through art is a great avenue to engage locally
youth, so we think that’s a tremendous opportunity here at California State Parks in Los Angeles. The idea of this fruit park is more about
getting people to think about what an important role publicly accessible fruit can and should
play in our public environment in LA. We used to be all orange orchards. And here we are struggling with healthy food
options when we have a solution right in front of us a community which is we could have fruit
trees everywhere. So the park is not only a physical manifestation
that I feel very confident people are going to enjoy for generations to come, but it’s
certainly a way to get people to think about how to address healthy food options in our
communities. (Relaxing music is playing.) I’m excited that we were able to work on this
project. I’m proud of it because it was a collaboration
and the true meaning and spirit of collaboration. And it took the County of Los Angeles–uh,
Los Angeles County Arts Commission, took the Department of Water and Power, Parks and Recreation
as well as the neighborhood council of this particular neighborhood. The parks staff at this particular location,
they all really come together. And not negotiating such dogmatic terms, but
really cooperate and find inspirations in each other’s ideas and choices, and preference
to move to this whole thing forward. (Groovy rock music is playing.) My name is Hillary Mushkin and the project
that I have in Artbound is called Incendiary Traces and it’s, uh, a community generated
project which involves a series of drawing events. Where we’re going out to the places in Southern
California that are in some way militarized. We’re going to Twentynine Palms–to the Twentynine
Palms Marine Base to go out there and look at–these, sort of, fake cities that are made
out of very basic construction. The marines addressed them up in what they
call atmospheric and they actually bring in actors hat are costumed and so on, so that
the marines get the sense that they are in whatever place they’re trained to go. Incendiary Traces is being people who are
interested in that type of environment and in drawing or in someway just sort of thinking
about the Southern California landscape as a place which can help us to understand, seemingly
remote wars. (Vehicle is moving.) (Heavy Rock Blues music is playing.) This was the marine course first attempt at
building an urban warfare training center here in Twentynine Palms. This is what a small village would look like. (Gun is firing.) You can hear the marines and sailors with
wide fire in the background. All right? That’s how close we are to live fire. I got three separate groups of marines and
sailors training. We cannot interfere with training. Remember, these individuals are learning stuff
and rehearsing things that are supposed to save their lives. I am uncomfortable in the back that if we
stop or interfere with that we could get somebody killed. I’m gonna give you a quick brief and lets
you start one work through the rooms, asking questions whatever you want. I’m gonna give histories, background, you
guys can sketch, paint, draw, take pictures. At this point, does anybody have any questions? (Electronic music is playing.) (People are taking pictures and drawing.) What does drawing have to do with understanding
this place? Why here? What’s to draw here? This is not a scenic overlook or something
like that. There are pyrotechnics and tripwires set up
in the entire village. What’s tripwires? You–if you hit the wire, it goes boom. If that’s the case, why would you ever let
us be in here? Yeah. The people that joined me at these drawings
want to sit with us and think and draw and contemplate and otherwise metaphorically trace
those places. (Electronic Music is playing) (People are drawing.) How can we understand Southern California
landscape as a way of relating to what it feels like to be in a warzone somewhere else. And Twentynine Palms Marine Base is a great
place to do that because all of the marines that were going to Iraq were trained in these
mock villages there and now they are training marines to go to Afghanistan using the same
simulated environments. (Electronic Music is playing) (People are drawing.) I’m a landscape architect, so the way in which
we relate to the land is something I’m just fundamentally interested in. And to be here and to see that this scaling
and sort of in these ways and the role that it plays, as a training ground, yet has all
the sublime qualities of the landscape that we sort of value so much. That’s the thing that makes this the perfect
place to train for the 21st century battlefield. (Electronic Music is playing) I’m not really sure what to make of it quite
yet. (Electronic Music is playing) (People are drawing.) (Heavy Rock Blues music is playing) The simulation center, I didn’t know anything
about what that was gonna be like at. Now, it’s so dramatic, I think the thing that
is disturbing is that it’s easy to be in these places and to get in to all the training and
to imagine what it might be like to have to train yourself and you take all the stuff
very seriously, but there’s also the sense that it’s a game, you are not actually under
the real pressures of being in a warzone. Run him over. Run him over. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hit the gas. We got to go, we got to go. (Electronic Music is playing.) One of the reasons why I want to go to these
places to draw and to sort of metaphorically trace in other ways with these places is because
drawing is something that is slow and it allows to take in a situation in a way that is very
meditative and contemplative and–you learn things about the place differently through
drawing than by listening to somebody talk or by reading. The longer we stay in a place, I think the
more of we can connect to it, and that’s part of what drawing allows us to do, it’s just
to stay in that place and connect. And by sitting and drawing, there is–just
by doing that, a point of being able to connect and it gives a chance to think about how much
can I really understand about the place that this is supposed to represent through this
process. (Electronic music is playing.) (People are drawing.) My name is Meher McArthur. I’m an Asian art historian. I’m a creator, author, and educator. My main area of interest usually is East Asia,
but I’m actually half Iranian myself and so I decided I wanted to find an interesting
Iranian artist to write about and I was amazed by the work of Marjan Vayghan. Uh, her works seemed very unique and interesting
and emotional and beautiful. And so, I decided to choose her for the article. Marjan is an artist who has lived between
Iran and The United States for most of her life until her last visit to Iran in 2009,
uh, she in her partner were kidnapped by government representatives and taken away and interrogated
for hours. This experience was extremely traumatic for
her. She actually thought they were gonna kill
her. For two years, after that episode, she actually
retreated into her own closet and created a safe space for herself to try and heal from
the traumatic episode. And so, the crates, um, really expressed her
conflicting attitude towards Iran right now. These places she’s creating are safe and beautiful
places that you can retreat to feel that the world is a–is a safe place to live in. (Crowd chattering and whispering in the scene.) It was the 40th day anniversary of Neda Agha-Soltan’s
death who had been shot in 2009. I went with my mother and we got there at
7:00 AM and there were a lot of people. (People shouting in Iranian language.) Mourning mourning today! Today is the day of mourning! All Iranians are mourners today! We just found ourselves in the middle of this
giant protest held on top of open graves. (Crowd chattering and whispering in the scene.) And there were so many open graves and they
were so many walking on them. There were just people everywhere. (Crowd chattering and whispering in the scene.) (Speaking in Iranian language)
I told my mom, for god’s sake take me from here! I cried and then ran here on my own. Here is good. (Speaking in Iranian language)
Are you scared? (Speaking in Iranian language)
A little. I’ve been shaking since this morning. When I came here I didn’t think it would
be so crowded. If you see one of these paramilitary police,
then you’ll know… It’s just basically more than I could compute
and more that than I can comprehend. (Speaking in Iranian language)
I feel sorry for the police, they are our age. But they are the ones who are hitting! (Speaking in Iranian language)
They’re really hitting people? (Speaking in Iranian language)
I swear on the Koran! They’re hitting them so bad, you just can’t
believe it! (Speaking in Iranian language)
Their clothes are scarier than they are. (Speaking in Iranian language)
They’re called “The Soldiers of the Prophet of the Time.” (Speaking in Iranian language)
“Prophet of the Time?” Oh. (Crowd chattering and whispering in the scene.) I was sitting behind these two people and
I just started making more videos and doing more art and I just kind of like, dealt with
it that way. (Techno drum is playing.) I moved here in 1995. LA and Tehran are both home and they both
kind of feel the same. I was born right between the Iran-Iraq war,
but I had an amazing childhood because I had such a great family base. I was raised by grandmother and my aunt, and
my mom, and my grandmother used to, like, help us how to make, like, bread and so, and
so it was amazing. There’s such a misunderstanding about Iran,
and what’s so important about light and shadow’s exhibition in Marjan’s work and all these
Iranian artists is that it really does show that Iran is not this just one homogeneous
place that people do have different perspectives. They are 80 million people who live in Iran. About 70% of the populations under the age
of 35, a lot of them do not agree with the Iranian government, a lot of them have different
perspectives as we saw with the 2009 Green Revolution. Unfortunately, their voices are censored,
but people have the internet, they have YouTube and slowly, slowly we’re beginning to see
what they really think and how they began to express themselves. August 5th, 2009 which was the day we got
arrested. At night, I just figured, “Let’s go out, let’s
go for a drive, let’s try to make to Tajrish by sunset.” We hadn’t even begun to go around Vanak. And I remember looking up and looking out
the window, and they’re almost wasn’t any Vanak, there was just police in uniforms,
military uniforms. (Speaking in Iranian language)
You have to stop that. You have to stop that. Okay. You have to stop that. (Speaking in Iranian language)
Okay. (Speaking in Iranian language)
Pull over! I was taking into this trailer, a bunch of
paper works were put in front of me and I was getting yelled at. The guy who originally, like, got us kept
coming into the trailer kicking this door that was this like flimsy, it’s kind of–that’s
why I picked the material that I print the works on because it reminds me of that. Like, cheap, fine, but like, heavy, none door-door,
like he kept kicking that down, coming in and going–give them to me, I found them,
they’re mine. I did a lot of fitting in closets after I
got arrested. So all of the crates kind of like the inside
of my closet. Marjan by bringing framed photographs that
are on canvas and put over these beautiful crates of, um, Iranian historical sites where
Marjan’s very passionate about. She basically sits inside these crates and
tantalizes the audience by catching the background. As you can see, people getting tricked and
curious. Crate is like filing cabinet for the happenings
of a certain day. Audio that was pulled from video, sounds,
dirt, stuff, pillows, light. And I go and I sit inside them, and they all
have different ceilings in them. And I kidnap people into each crate and I
do different performances based on the crate. I usually sit in here close … One of the ideas that I would like to create
in the gallery is bringing more understanding of different communities and, uh, backgrounds
between Iran or Israel that’s lived and, lived together for years, and there has been lack
of connection, and understanding between them. And this is a great way to get to understand
the culture, and the history, and the beauty of what we, uh, we can bring into Los Angeles. Iranians know what they’re talking about. No, because we’re so rich with history, and
we have so much to offer but you never (UI) you’re doing them right over here. You are using these tools, these God-given
tools to inform the world with something deeper. Um, my art’s just like my therapy that I dragged
other people through. And I spent so much time trying not to make
art about this for days that they just became so happy that I needed to put them in giant,
empty shipping crates that looked empty to other people, but I just had to make art about
it. I just had to make art about it and get over
it. And honestly, like I’m over it. My name is Shana Nys Dambrot, and I’m an art
critic, and curator, and writer based in Downtown, LA. Well, I met Victor basically through work. At the time I was running Flavorpill, Los
Angeles, and I started getting press releases about an experimental kind of, I guess you
could call it kind of like pop up, uh, called the Integrated Circus in a space Downtown
where he both made and sort of fold his clothing. And I really responded to the clothing because
of the whole sensibility of approaching fashion as something that was not just automatically
about being like skinny and perfect, and showing skin and being tight, and having to wear high
heels and everything, or whatever any of that kind of is. It was about being interesting and about a
little bit of storytelling with the clothes. So it’s not just any fabric. He’s very conscious of the sort of meaning,
and the kind of embedded narrative that comes along with using those kinds of raw materials. He takes the evidence of something that was
violent, and transforms it into something that is beautiful. (Slow techno beat music is playing.) (M4 carbine gun fires.) I do tend to use guns, um, not just the imagery
but also as sort of like a painter when he use a brush. You know, guns are such a powerful symbol
and they mean different things to different people. For me personally, using a gun is a tool of
creation, as a sort of catharsis for me. Um, because I–my family were attacked when
I was–I just turned 18 in Brooklyn and my parents were shot, my mother was killed. So for me personally, using the gun and sort
of taking the power away from it, and putting it back in my hands to create. The military coat, it’s sort of a hybrid,
uh, trench coat. It consists of a, uh, marine’s dress uniform
and the bottom is a, uh, American flag. It’s a symbol of anti-war. It’s taking these symbols of–all the symbols,
you know, the army, the blank patriot is, um, um, and assault rifles, and sort of putting
them in each other’s face and using them against each other, and just kind of putting in a
blender, and rolling it together, and pouring it out, and taking a drink. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) (Fashion show producers chattering.) Being in fashion is not something that I ever
had planned, and not–and neither had I ever planned to be a street performer, or a performance
artist. These things–yeah, they just sort of come
to me, in my life, and, uh, I let them. And I kind of–I kind of like that about life
just sort of going along with–take it by the reins when it presents itself. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) (Fashion show producers chattering.) It just sort of made sense that I would be
in fashion, but at the same time I’m still melding film, and like my first love was painting. I used to paint all the times. So I’m still melding all of these art forms
together. I personally like too consider myself as an
inter-media artist. Uh, so it’s just, you know, I draw from all
different mediums and put them together. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) But I do produce t-shirts, and jeans, and
stuff that is more producible. The–then I also take vintage stuff and redo
it. I do a mix of everything. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) One thing that I’ve been doing for several
seasons now is working with parachute material. Um, from, uh, I have this old sewed parachutes
leftover from the Vietnam War, and I repurposed them and make them into beautiful dresses. So, it sort of taking something again that
was used in a kind of a negative connotation and turning it on its ear, and using it, creating
something positive, and angelic, and beautiful. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) With Victor’s work you’ll find that he will
never ever sacrifice his artistic integrity, uh, for trends, for sales, for anything like
that. And when you first see his work, you can get
very–it can be alarming when you’re used to seeing certain things walk down the runway,
you’re used already to wear collections, you’re used to being to go, “Oh, wait, wait, I can
wearing that right now.” I look at Victor’s stuff, and I went, “Hmm. You don’t wear that right now.” And then when you actually break it down,
piece by piece, you can wear it very easily. It’s when it comes together that’s when it
becomes sort of chaotic Bohemian, autistic, um, I don’t wanna say mess but it is. But, uh, it’s his mess and, uh, his identity,
and it’s who he is. (Fashion models and Victor talking.) I think the Bohemian society, how their unique
(UI), they capture that, anything-can-happen-here sort of feeling. One of a kind approach creates a value is
otherwise lacking. It’s like doing a limited edition t-shirt,
or a–or a rare vintage of wine. So I think that’s a plus for anyone, not just
the Bohemian society but anybody who does something that’s very rare and, you know,
embellished by hand, and Victor, uh, and the Bohemian society are known for shooting things
with guns for example. So even if you shot 10 things with guns, they
all have different ammo spray patterns. And so, I think there’s a value there that
wouldn’t otherwise exist. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) Victor doesn’t care about what trend forecast
is predicting for the next few seasons. (Upbeat music is playing in the background.) He’s driven by what he wants to see, what
inspires him whether it’s fire, ice, water, the streets of Downtown, LA. He–that’s what pushes him and motivates him
to create collections. A lot of the pieces I make or, you know, there’s–there
are statements in themselves. (Distant music playing in the background.) (Alternative music beat is playing in the
background.) A dress itself is, um, the bottom is essentially
just, um, just t-shirt fabric material. The top is mostly crinoline, and then we pout
LED lights inside to illuminate it. And then I put the final touches on it with
a blow torch, sort of, um, just give it a certain effect that really makes the nebula,
the explosion pop. (Alternative music beat is playing in the
background.) The idea is it is, you know, creation is distraction
sort of like the yin and the yang thing. You can’t have the dark without the light. There’s always sort of a–the light at the
end at the end of the tunnel, but they’ll both go hand in hand. You can create things through destruction
and vice versa. (Alternative music beat is playing in the
background.) Initially, I set up it out to have it sort
of look like an atomic bomb but when things come to fruition, sometimes they on their
own life and their own meaning. It sort of looks more Nimbula-ish, which is,
you know, it’s the universe. It’s the big picture, and that sort of–that
piece definitely embodies what the collection is. It’s everything, and then it’s nothing at
the same time. (Alternative music beat is playing in the
background.) One, two, three, four. (A country music is playing.) I work hard to love him. I reach out try to make him know. It’d be so awful, and so sad to leave him
alone. But sometimes my mind goes. It goes far away wherever the wind blows. Aaa, cause it don’t come easy my love. He tries to hold me. But his arms feel much too tight. And then when I need him. I’ve pushed somewhere I can’t find. And I know it’s not fair. Sometimes my heart is here and sometimes there. Aaa, cause it don’t come easy my love. Do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do. Once we were so happy inside. A little hope. But something’s in my way. These walls won’t let me go. These stops seems worse than ending up on
my own. I don’t know. Can we let go? (Ending credits being shown while music is
playing.) It don’t come easy my love. Don’t come. Easy my love. Don’t come. Easy my love. Don’t come. Easy my love.

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