Islands of LA

Islands of LA, Islands Talk and Tour, Image by Julio Orozco

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  • PPS Performative (Outside of the Gallery) Islands Talk and Tour

  • PPS Exhibit (Inside the Gallery) Islands of LA
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Fantastical pockets of intimate, highly visible public space, traffic islands are often thought of as lines separating the flow of traffic or, for the pedestrian, points along a transportation node for very brief stops. But they are also absurd and diverse way stations in our urban infrastructure”1

Marginalized yet ubiquitous, traffic islands with pedestrian access are surprising public spaces. They are also, asserts Ari Kletsky, “the freest space”2 in the legal context of the United States; for unlike other public areas they are usable around the clock.

Exploring the edges, including the legal edges, of open public space, Kletzky’s Islands of LA (2007–ongoing) offers both an expression of the desire for meaningful connection and a multi-faceted exploration of traffic islands as places where such connections can be made.

Establishing precedents of public use, Islands of LA activates traffic islands – via square dancing, tomato planting, a picnic, a tether ball game, to mention but a few – facilitates such activation for others, and illuminates the largely unknown global history of islands as public spaces.

For the exhibition Performing Public Space the artist will speak on the subject of traffic islands at the Casa del Tunel and lead a guided walk of local islands. Offered as an invitation to Tijuana artists and others, it is intended that the presentation and shared walk will initiate further island-based action in both TJ and Los Angeles.

Through our use and documentation, we are able to show that these spaces are used and have been used. This will serve to help protect and save pedestrian accessible traffic islands in the U.S. It will ensure that they are there for our children’s children.”3

1: Email exchange with Owen Driggs, January 9, 2010. 2: ibid. 3: Project website

Visit the Islands of LA website

Read about Islands of La in the L.A. Times and DWELL


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