Single Channel 10 MINUTES
I often would go hiking with my dog on the winding fire trails behind Magic Mountain. The path borders the “edge of nature”, where housing development has stopped (temporarily) and butts into open land of chaparral. Emerging stealthily, a pack of coyotes attacked my dog. I finally escaped their stalking circle into the bright green of man’s scripted landscape—a golf course. This surreal experience had an uncanny resemblance to myth and fairytale. “Let’s call it, Valencia” is a reenactment in which I navigated the gray area between experience and representation, subjectivity and perception. I examined how memory is a function of interpretation while exploring the relationship between the authentic and the orchestrated.
"As the region transforms to accommodate growth in the core of LA and an infrastructure reaching as far as the borders, art becomes a medium to express the experience. A number of artists turn the lens on themselves and their relationships with others to explore identity, and to grapple with the idea of “honest representation.” Costuming, the exterior manipulation of the self, is used as a representational strategy in video and photography to locate a physical and psychological point of stasis.
In a region whose biggest economic commodity is masquerade, perhaps honest representation is a mythical, social construction. A skein of skins may be one method to depict the condition of spatial and identity anxiety in Southern California. Alexa Gerrity’s video Let’s Call It Valencia (2009) collaborates with graduate dance students in a layered exploration into the psychological confinement of suburbia. Gerrity and a doppleganger star in the video as a fairy-tale figure, donning a white headband and red jacket. As she strolls with her Shih-Tzu, the soundtrack shifts into a battle hymn as a pack of hungry coyotes circle the pair. It is because of Gerrity’s piercing scream and the proximity of the nearby golf course that the companions are saved. The production functions as a triptych capturing simultaneously the choreography of the coyote dancers and their carnal expressions, the sterility of the white picket fences, and the surreal movements of the arid landscape.
The camera utilizes close ups, wide pans, and slow-motion shots to make the viewer uneasy. The arrangement of the corresponding images, awkward and uncomfortable, is reminiscent of a B-movie horror flick, exposing the tension within communities like Valencia where land-use arguments continue as developments sprawl without secured buyers. The final credits tease the work of Arthur Janov and the Primal Scream technique, revealing an additional psychoanalytic facet to Gerrity’s investigation into alienation and confinement."
Notes from the LA Scene: An Analysis on Flexible Identities
By Tracy C Gordon