Wet Horizons, Domestic Landscapes
Film: Luis Callejas, LCLA office
On October 11, Host: Natural Histories for Los Angeles opened the exhibition Wet Horizons in the Neutra VDL House. The installation by Medellin architect Luis Callejas was made in collaboration with architect and textile designer Charlotte Hansson.
The main piece of Wet Horizons is a pair of silk curtain-like drawings printed with site plans of several of Callejas’ projects, each one centered on a body of water. Knowing that these drawings would be layered against the view of the Silver Lake reservoir, Callejas and Hansson said that they “turned oceans into a river.” They connected each of the speculative projects from around the world into a single watery site across the 15 meters of silk: a lagoon park in Venice, Italy; an array energy generators along the Persian Gulf; lighthouse that illuminate the border between Colombia and Nicaragua in the San Andres Archipelago; islands in Kiev turned into parks (created before the current political unrest in Ukraine, however foreshadowing it, perhaps, since the text identifying the islands alternates between Ukrainian and Russian.)
Southern California is in the middle of its worst drought in recent history. Water and all things foggy, humid, damp, or wet increasingly is a luxury. Outside the windows of the VDL penthouse, the water in the Silver Lake reservoir dropped below normal levels, exposing a concrete basin. As water evaporates, what we think of as a lake is revealed to be what it really is: a piece of water infrastructure, a simulacrum of the natural environment.
During the days leading up to the Saturday night opening a different kind of reenactment was taking place inside the Neutra VDL House. The production of the silk textile drawing—hung on the house’s existing curtain track—required a simulation of domestic life through activities such as sewing and ironing not seen in the house in decades. As a host, the house is welcoming, not benign. Acted out in the context of an architecture already embedded with mid-century values, simple tasks seemed almost uncomfortably retrograde as performed by Hansson and caught on video by Callejas. Wet Horizons, then, provokes a question: How do the private scale enactments of domestic ritual change and reframe the territory of landscape architecture?
Following the Saturday night opening, an intimate conversation between Callejas, Hansson, and Wonne Ickx of Productora took place over coffee and bagels on Sunday morning in the VDL courtyard.