Insight: ‘Bending the River’ to keep Los Angeles afloat at the Fulcrum Arts festival, Daniela Silva, δημοσίευση CLOT Magazine [22/11/2022]
The majority of the world’s earliest cities were built along rivers because they were essential to the city’s survival. Rivers provide habitat for plants and animals as well as water and assist natural processes like flood prevention. Plants, for instance, provide a cooling impact and aid in reducing surface and air temperatures by offering shade and releasing moisture into the atmosphere. They also control floods since the majority of plant species that grow along riverbanks absorb a lot of water, lowering the threat that floods pose to people and structures.
Additionally, rivers facilitate social interaction, provide recreational possibilities, and link communities. However, we have noticed that over time, a lot of people and decision-makers have disregarded or missed the stated significance of rivers.
As technology and infrastructure improved, rivers lost importance and were increasingly ignored. The representation of the link between the city and nature in our cities is undergoing a thorough change for the first time since the industrial revolution. In order to bring nature back into the cities through its often-forgotten rivers, architects, planners, landscape architects, artists, politicians, and society are working together. To re-establish nature and improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood, some people are removing infrastructure or recovering abandoned industrial riverfront heritage. Others are taking it to a whole new level and planning a resilient connection with their rivers in light of the current effects of climate change.
Currently, the Los Angeles River is a concretized flood control measure that transports wastewater from the city to the ocean. Bending the River, the latest project from Lauren Bon (an environmental artist from Los Angeles, California), reimagines the relationship between Los Angeles and the river. The Metabolic Studio is an artistic practice engaged in activism and sometimes provoking strong reactions, following its statement that “artists need to create on the same scale that society has the capacity to destroy”.
Bending the river was part of the Fulcrum Arts festival 2022 edition, Deep Ocean/Deep Space in Los Angeles during September. In collaboration with Pitzer College Art Galleries, organized an exhibition which was the first curation of this ongoing work, currently in its third year of construction.
The project is the culmination of years spent working to maintain living systems and reconnect us with the Los Angeles River. On the grounds of the most recent opening of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, this trip started in 2005–2006 with Not A Cornfield. Where Lauren developed a durational performance in celebration of this pre-colonial watershed at Yaangna that became the industrial service channel for Los Angeles under a contract with the State Parks department for one crop cycle. Ninety miles of irrigation piping were installed, Native American communal corn was planted, and the earth in this defunct railroad yard was cleaned.