The Palos Verdes Peninsula is defined by both its natural beauty and its physical barriers. Situated alongside a scenic coastline, many streets in the neighboring cities of Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates are privately owned with vehicular and pedestrian access controlled through a series of gates. The planning for this region began in the early 1920s, when a team of landscape architects representing the Olmsted Brothers traveled from Brookline, Massachusetts to survey the coastal terrain and design a new community from the ground up. Yet, while the Olmstedian landscape is often associated with democratic and egalitarian values, it has been converted into a luxury aesthetic on the peninsula. It is a landscape of contradiction. There are diverse landforms but homogenous populations, expansive views but restricted entry, ineffable beauty but invisible labor. Yet, something else lies beneath the surface of this surreal tranquility. As the site of three ancient landslides, the Palos Verdes Peninsula is home to some of the most unstable terrains in the world. Here, the geological intertwines with the social, the cultural and the economic, resulting in a complex weave that embodies contemporary theorizations of the Anthropocene.
Labors of Landscape is a collaborative installation produced by Zachary Tate Porter, Christina Novakov-Ritchey, and Mari Beltran.