Arto Lindsay, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and West of Rome Public Projects, <em>Trespass Parade</em>, October 2, 2011, Los Angeles.

Arto Lindsay, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and West of Rome Public Projects, Trespass Parade, October 2, 2011, Los Angeles. Courtesy of West of Rome Public Art, Pasadena, Ca. Photo: Tina Hosseinzadeh.

Empty L.A.

An empty Los Angeles is a city in potentia. Into the voided Broadway cordoned off by police moved an art parade, a kind of limitlessness within limits, affective, celebratory, and temporary. Difference dissolved within the group-hallucinated city; Los Angeles peeled away for a moment and appeared to those present as an empty slab, an architecture of possibility. Such a city, like Gilles Deleuze’s “any-space-whatever,” is malleable in all its aspects, a wasteland of potential “both ruined and fresh.”12 Is art up to the task of reconstruction? Can art gather up solid, living contradictions in its metaphors? Can it do so in a way more productive than self-congratulatory? As it collected various actions, without prejudice, into an illusory consensus, Trespass maintained its emptiness —denying rather than manipulating the real. At a time when the political demonstration is already hyper-aestheticized, with the right inflection, one could wield a blank city as a weapon against signification itself. Indeed, maybe this is what remains for art to accomplish. Yet Trespass cheerfully decorated its costume with inert transgressions. It was in the end a pale staging of an already fantastic group hallucination. As I write this, far weirder things take their course: someone dancing down Wall Street on the edge of Skid Row to the zombie rhythm of meth withdrawal; a quartet of police sirens phasing in and out like a pack of feeding coyotes. To this tweaker, to these cops, surrounded by dire specificity, Trespass urges: keep dancing, keep singing, keep dancing keep singing—and to every citizen: keep marching.

Travis Diehl is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in such venues as the Hysterically Real Theater, Curtat Tunnel,, and the Centre Pompidou. He edits the Los Angeles-based magazine Prism of Reality.



  1. Kelsey, 236.
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