Can you find the portraits of Glen Wilson in the desert?


This story is part of Image number 8, “Desert”, a supercharged experience of becoming and spiritual renewal. Have a good trip! (Wink, wink.) See the full package here.

The wilderness that I have known since I moved to Southern California from Chicago almost 30 years ago, both as a manifestation of space and an expression of time, belies expectations and never fails. to reveal itself as an expanse of colliding dichotomies. His land stretches out, the boundaries are fragile, what seems sterile is bearing fruit. The moon rises as well underfoot as on the horizon, and here inevitably succumbs to the. Beyond any terrestrial prism through which one can observe a seemingly limitless place, the consciousness of the desert, I suppose, remains more in the cosmos than with the fleeting perspectives of the humans passing through it. When I find myself in the wilderness, whether it’s arriving there as a destination in the east or north, or coming back to another vast ocean in the west, my most basic questions are given space to breathe. “Where am I?”

“Desert Totem (West Adams, California)” in front of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building designed in 1949 by Paul Williams. The building was the headquarters of the largest black-owned business west of the Mississippi (as of 1945), offering whole life insurance policies to the black community that had until then been excluded not only from the fair housing, but also financial wealth. instruments that these policies represented. The building also once housed the company’s incredible collection of art by black American artists, many from Los Angeles.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

A blurry car passes "Desert Totem Pole (West Adams, California)" and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building.

The lobby of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building still features murals, commissioned by the company, depicting the contributions of pioneering black citizens in California.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

If the desert reflects a constellation of constantly evolving questions – a vocation – my piece “Desert Totem” forms a continuous response, a kind of personal and cosmic echolocation that plays out in my creative work. It is made up of portraits I made at different times – of a man named Elijah and a great horned owl – which are woven into the mesh of the diamond-mesh doors that I have collected over the years. years in houses (now disappeared, in my own neighborhood, but reactivated in my work). The two portraits reflect outwards and inwards (on the back).

I met Elijah years ago. We were both fishing in the desert – him literally, me metaphorically as I sped along the desert road, with the Parliament-Funkadelic “Mothership Connection” screaming in my car. I had asked the cosmos a question about presence versus absence in the desert, and Elijah quickly introduced himself, fishing along a roadside irrigation ditch, as if to say, “You. Are here ! At another time, I was obliged to give a burial to a great horned owl at the foot of a saguaro where the deserts of Sonora and Mojave merge. Years later, I had the opportunity to meet one of the owl’s living descendants up close. The two images travel with me, in my mind, with the work that I do. And just as I continue to move “Desert Totem” from one context to another, the questions around presence versus absence, arrival versus departure, installation versus migration and erasure. against fairness will persist, provoke and, hopefully, forge bonds.

Portraits of a Grand Duke and a person at the entrance to Highway 10 eastbound.

“Desert Totem” placed on one of the many freeway slip roads where drivers and pedestrians can spot work amid other road signs. Artist Glen Wilson says: “Just like freeway signs, which are a ubiquitous part of the visual vernacular of Southern California, I consider doors to be part of the language of the cityscape and of the fleeting collective memory. . I wanted them both to merge and to disrupt the expectations of spaces characterized by the movement of departure and fusion.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

"Desert Totem Pole (Lancaster, California)" in a field of yellowed grass.

“Desert Totem (Lancaster, Calif.)” Is located where 25th Street East ends in a dead end in the Mojave Desert. The growth of communities like Lancaster and Palmdale, an hour and a half north of downtown Los Angeles, where the LA County edges merge into the desert itself, is part of the history of economic pressures, affordability, equity and places where communities can rebuild.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

Two young people on bicycles beside "Desert Totem Pole (Lancaster, California)"

These young bikers came back to where I was setting up “Desert Totem (Lancaster, Calif.)”. We talked about art, living in Lancaster, maintaining motorcycles and a missing gas cap. They blessed the totem pole with a pose and gaze at the desert setting sun before tearing away after it.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

The sun is setting behind "Desert totem pole."

Lost in translation, found in the desert … the sun wants its last word in the Mojave, until the moon rises to speak.

(Glen Wilson / For the Times)

Glen WilsonThe multidisciplinary practice of (born 1969 in Columbus, Ohio, lives and works in Los Angeles) includes photography, sculpture, filmmaking, installation and assemblage. Provoking questions around voice, visibility, and cartography, Wilson’s works suggest fluid narratives of place, diaspora, cultural heritage, and the intersections of individual and community identity. Wilson has recently exhibited at Frieze London and in group exhibitions at the Getty Center and the California African American Museum. Wilson holds a BA from Yale University and an MFA from the University of California at San Diego and is represented by Divers Small Fires Gallery (Los Angeles / Seoul).


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