Breathing a new city of Los Angeles to life, through urban art and performance
The Sons and Daughters of Los
Culture and Community in L.A.
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edited by David E. James
Los Angeles. A city that is synonymous with celebrity and mass-market culture, is also, according to David James, synonymous with social alienation and dispersal. In the communities of Los Angeles, artists, cultural institutions and activities exist in ways that are often concealed from sight, obscured by the powerful presence of Hollywood and its machinations.
In this significant collection of original essays, The Sons and Daughters of Los reconstructs the city of Los Angeles with new cultural connections. Explored here are the communities that offer alternatives to the picture of L..A. as a conglomeration of studios and mass media. Each essay examines a particular piece of, or place in, Los Angeles cultural life: from the Beyond Baroque Poetry Foundation, the Woman's Building, to Highways, and LACE, as well as the achievements of these grassroots initiatives. Also included is critical commentary on important artists, including Harry Gamboa, Jr., and others whose work have done much to shape popular culture in L.A. The cumulative effect of reading this book is to see a very different city take shape, one whose cultural landscape is far more innovative and reflective of the diversity of the city's people than mainstream notions of it suggest.
The Sons and Daughters of Los offers a substantive and complicated picture of the way culture plays itself it out on the smallest scalein one of the largest metropolises on earthcontributing to a richer, more textured understanding of the vibrancy of urban life and art.
"The predisposition for universalizing forms of taste that favor timeless over timely workthe sensibility evident in most professional critics and historians of culturemilitates against the study of local, tendentious, oppositional forms of endeavor. In Los Angeles, within the belly of the beast, a flourishing oppositional culture, ignored by the dominant media, exists. This book brings to light a remarkable set of artistic, institutional, and cultural practices of exemplary value. James is an excellent writer and dedicated scholar."
"This is an important, multi-vocal, innovative and definitive volume on alternative community arts and cultural spaces as they are envisaged and nurtured in Los Angeles. The city and its innovative cultural institutions have long deserved such a passionate, resonant and articulate perspective as David James provides for them here in this superlatively edited volume."
Read a review from Museum News, November/December 2003 (pdf).
David E. James is Professor in the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California. He is the author or editor of five books, including, most recently, Power Misses: Essays Across (Un)Popular Culture.
Contributors: Jiwon Ahn, University of Southern California; Meiling Cheng, University of Southern California; Sande Cohen, California Institute of the Arts; Harry Gamboa, Jr.; Eric Gordon, University of Southern California; Claudine Isé, University of California, Los Angeles, Laura Meyer, University of California, Los Angeles; Bill Mohr; James Moran; Nithila Peter, University of Southern California, and the editor.
In the series
The mission of Wide Angle Books is to document, chronicle, and honor those institutions that have worked effectively to maintain a public presence and public spaces for alternative forms of media. These books recognize that institutional support of media happens at a variety of levels in a film series, in a video distribution organization, in a transnational digital network, in a grassroots production organization and in locations across the globe. Individual volumes in the series focus on such forms of primary documentation as letters, institutional records, and oral histories, presented and contextualized by leading media history scholars.