Rediscovering Our Wasteland

Bernd & Hilla Becher.
Bernd & Hilla Becher

Bernd & Hilla Becher.
 We will be spending the greater part of the summer in Southern CA, away from our current home on the Northern coast of the state. I have come and gone from my original home of Orange County a number of times now, and each time I challenge myself to sort of rediscover a part of this place, which I consider to be a complete wasteland. I suppose this word wasteland carries a stigma at first, defined by words like barren, bleak and ravaged. These descriptions are all true of where I grew up, all in the form of waaaaay too many cars, waaaay too many people and a very dark disregard for a lot of natural things in general. But it is ours and these are my people! Over time I have found a certain beauty and character within this truth about where I was born and can't help but turn to a few sources of inspiration in exploring it all over again, namely the photos of Bernd and Hilla Becher, the land database from the incredible Culver City based Center for Land Use Interpretation and the writings of one of my favorite females Lucy Lippard.       
CLUI photo by Steve Rowell.

Port of Los Angeles. CLUI photo.
Lucy Lippard the Lure of the Local
 Excerpt from Lucy Lippard's The Lure of the Local:

Unlike the deep identification with place or the need to keep moving is the kind of placelessness engendered by sheer indifference, which has reached such a point in this country that there are teenagers whose daily routes run from home to school to mall to television. They have never climbed the hill immediately behind their town, and there are children who have never gone the few miles from their homes to the sea.

If you would find yourself, look to the land you came from and to which you go.
                                 -Henry David Thoreau


Rick Fee said...

Wasteland is a term that is in the eye of the beholder. While I share your dislike of the crowds and traffic, there are aspects of home that are worthy of appreciation. The weather, the sea, the conveniences, and of course, family and friends.

One thing I have observed over the years is....bottom line - people are generally as happy they choose to be, wherever that may be.

Rasmussen By Hand said...

I knew I would get some backlash for that commentary......

The Rath of Vor said...

I've spent some time in southern California already this summer before coming to Southern Florida, (I hope to spend some more with the two of you before we venture North again for another year in Ft. Bragg) and I have to say I loved the time I had there. I never met a disagreeable person, everything was beautiful, and I don't think I need to even mention the weather. However, I wouldn't be compeled to disagree with your feelings for the place, as I myself have had similar feelings for my home in South Florida.
Growing up in one place I think instills a desire to flee for some; a need to see more, to explore, to meet new people and find a place that you feel fits you better. Those were the emotions that I went through after 2years of College at home, and then again after 7 years in New York City. I still don't know where I belong exactly, it's something that I am constantly thinking about and searching for signs of. I know that I love Florida because it's my home, its where I grew up, its where all of me was created in a sense. I don't want to disrespect the importance of home, but I don't want to miss a chance to find love, and inspiration in another place. The fear and question for me now is, "when do I finally find that place and stop looking for it in another? When do I plant myself and spread my roots?"
There is an idea of California. I've seen it in peoples eyes and heard from their mouths. Spending my whole life on the east coast I've been witness to it a lot. Just telling people I'm living there, I can see jealousy form on their face. My idea of California is what drove me to get out there. It seemed like a place that would fit me better, and a place that I would fit better. I can't say that I've been disappointed, but I'm still investigating. There was a huge issue this school year between me and some people in the class, but they were from the East so screw them. My two favorite people I met from school were from California, Southern California! (D&L) so those are some huge points for SoCal. I have to say though, I think Huntington Beach reminded me A LOT of Boca Raton Florida. Now mind you I only drove through it, but it seemed so manufactured; track houses and color coordinated buildings were the landscape I saw. Compared to Venice, Manhattan Beach, or Hermosa Beach it didn't have the soul or personality. I wonder as I write that if you will feel defensive and want to contradict that opinion, to stand up for your home? The place you are from, and the place that created you. Because I do still get that way when people bad mouth Florida (South Florida, we claim nothing north of Palm Beach County)

But in any case you can show me whats up when I'm back in CA at the end of July!

That book sounds great, I'm gonna pick it up. I'm fascinated by this topic.

Rasmussen By Hand said...

No offense taken! We are flattered in fact. I hear everything you are saying indeed. I encourage your continued exploration. Look forward to your company very soon!