Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Travel through Billboards // LA comes to the Deep South

Why do we travel? There are too many reasons to list and it's different for all of us. But, within that long list, most of us would say "experiencing another culture" is a major reason. Most humans are fascinated by the way the rest of the world lives. Some of us are blessed with the time, resources, etc. to actually get out of our bubbles of normalcy and observe other cultures through travel. However, we aren't all afforded that luxury, which is one reason I'm obsessed with Los Angeles Nomadic Division's The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project featuring the work of Mario Ybarra Jr. along I-10 in Mobile, AL. The billboards allow anyone passing a billboard to peek into another culture.

Mario Ybarra Jr. (b. 1973, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Wilmington, CA) is a visual and performance artist, educator, founding member of Slanguage collective, and activist who combines street culture with fine art to produce site-specific urban interventions that often bring to light little-known aspects of a particular location’s cultural history. Ybarra Jr.’s chapter of The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project uses the artist’s ongoing collection of images of what he calls “barrio aesthetics” in Los Angeles. 

Ybarra Jr. is interested in inserting the daily culture and experience of one city and neighborhood into another, both contrasting and familiar... hence the use of billboards. 

I love the way the fact that the billboards not only gives the public access to art in our daily lives (commute to work, while pumping gas, etc.), but they also give every viewer a little "moment of travel" as you glance into another culture for a split second. 

This week the billboards are making their way from I-10 to downtown Mobile. Where they will make the Centre for the Living Arts their new home for the duration of the Pre-Glo exhibition, April 3 - July 25. If you are near/in/or traveling through Mobile, don't miss this opportunity to "travel through photographs" to the barrios of LA. 

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