L.A. Baroque, 2009, Site Specific Photo/Video Installation
Curated by Kristen English and Kelli Manthei
From the press release:
L.A Baroque by Louisa Van Leer plays on the “historic courtyard” theme of the Fine Arts Building lobby in Downtown Los Angeles, which is replete with a large operable fountain containing bronze figures spouting jets of water and tiled floors and walls by the famous Batchelder Studios. The installation utilizes video and large scale panoramic photographs of the ten foot high, manicured hedge wrapping the Paramount Studios lot to explore themes of control in the Los Angeles landscape.
The manicured landscape of Los Angeles, exemplified by the tightly mown lawn, the groomed shrub, the squadrons of landscape crews in pickup trucks fanning out across the city, the endless tall hedges that screen the rich and famous from view in Beverly Hills and on the Paramount Lot is part of an ongoing photographic research project. Van Leer believes that the manicured landscape of L.A. has roots in French Baroque Gardens. It is the control of both garden and view that Le Notre, landscape architect of Versailles, harnessed and exploited to represent the power and status of the King of France; however, like many things in Los Angeles, the meaning there gets a bit warped. In L.A., media and entertainment is King and its seat of power is Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
In a highlight of Van Leer’s L.A. Baroque installation, the garden hedge and palace-like gates of the Paramount Studios lot, evocating power and privilege, is set off kilter by the presence of a step ladder placed conspicuously on the gallery floor in front of the hedge photograph, allowing Gallery patrons to step up and literally take a glimpse over the hedge.