Where Sign Spinners Meet Poetry
For one afternoon only, walk or bike around Los Angeles’ Union Station/Little Tokyo/Olvera Street area and find “human directionals” spinning thoughts from:
Saturday August 21st 3:00-6:00 p.m.
. . . . . . . . .Sign spinners – aka ‘human directionals’ – are a Southern Californian advertizing phenomenon. The spinners’ movements are paid for but, from within the constraints of economic neccessity, some create highly expressive physical forms. While the figure of the spinner has already been absorbed into popular culture, such physical expression of personality in public space is striking and rare.
Coupling the commercial form of the spun sign with non-commercial content, Economy of Gesture is a series of site-specific, poetic and performative interventions into public spaces. On Saturday August 21st 2010 Performing Public Space and Felipe Zuñiga will present Economy of Gesture around the Chinatown/Little Tokyo/ Olvera Street area of Los Angeles.
Operating across the binational region of Tijuana and San Diego, Economy of Gesture was started in 2007 by Susanna Bielak, Katherine Sweetman and Felipe Zuñiga. It has evolved with Zuñiga as the principal producer, working in collaboration with several artists.
In June 2010, Performing Public Space and Felipe Zuñiga put out a call for entries in search of three new collaborators to engage with the project and create sign content – a word, phrase, design or similar – for Economy of Gesture’s first Los Angeles outing. Performing Public Space is pleased to present Economy of Gesture’s first visit to Los Angeles on Saturday August 21st 2010.
Our spiritual needs and enlightenment desires are now a common part of our everyday vernacular and discussion thanks to the talk show gurus such as Oprah and Dr. Phil and the self-realization/spiritual guides such as Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Ekhart Tolle. Our culture is laden with every type of self-help practitioner, yoga studio, and book offering a multitude of ways to help you find and improve yourself. Unfortunately, our attention span is shortening. We lack patience and no longer give credence or time to the process. Whether it’s a new cell phone, a new car or happiness, we want it and we want it now. And more often than not, our culture looks towards advertising to point the way...
In this work, as in other works I have created using street signs, my intention it to explore and experiment with personal, cultural and social desires. The main focus of my artwork is in performance art, public art, installation and sculpture. The foundation of my work is inspired by my undergraduate degree in philosophy and in particular Phenomenology and the philosophical inquiries of Edmund Husserl. The phenomenological method is a reflective, evidential and descriptive approach to “being.” It tends to base inquiry and investigation on “encountering.” My performance art is framed by this cross-disciplinary approach and can be seen in my works. I also employ the deconstructivist method in my work to re-present and manipulate existing social rituals and activities. An example of this method is expressed in the creation of street signs. I consider my performances “social interventions,” and their true essence is revealed when the audience encounters the performance. My intention is to explore the human conditions of desire and identity, in a vocabulary that uses process, subtlety and an element of sublime humor. This style enables me to broach topics with the viewer in an unassuming manner, allowing the audience to be more receptive to the work in order to create their own meaning.
Andrea Dominguez is a mixed media and multimedia performance artist. Her interventions and work have been presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sound Walk, was funded to create an intereactive site-specific installation that involved over 1,000 participants for the 2010 Arts Alive Festival in Mission Viejo, CA. Ms
Dominguez received a major grant to create a multi-performer citywide work in San Diego titled More Of The Same that explored consumerism and desire through the use of symbolic and written language. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy from California State University Long Beach and her M.F.A in Public Practice at Otis College of Art & Design where she was awarded the prestigious Board of Governor’s award.
"This refers directly to the resistance that we are seeing about the border and migrant workers from Mexico.”
Luis Ituarte is a founding member of the Graffiti Arts Coalition and Urbanos L.A. and a member of Tijuana cultural think tank El Foro Cultural Ciudadano (FOCUC). He also serves as President of COFAC Mexico and Co-founder/Director of Tijuana’s La Casa del Tunel Art Center.
It addresses the internalization that the best of these guys go through to create something akin to dancing so that fun and enjoyment can be made from a physically demanding yet menial job that could easily be seen as degrading. Their positive engagement with this job via an attitude seems to reflect some of the best aspects of human adaption to a situation in ways that allow maximum payback for the effort - money and fun. It can also be seen as subverting the capitalist aim of the job description in either a humorous or angry retort.
Max Presneill is an artist and curator. His paintings are represented by Durden and Ray Fine Art, Los Angeles and has exhibited internationally in New York, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Mexico City, Sydney, Istanbul, Paris, and other cities. He is currently the Head Curator at the Torrance Art Museum and is the Founder and former Director of Raid Projects in Los Angeles (1998-2008). From 2005-8 he was the Director/Curator for the Mark Moore Gallery.
Julie Pittman and Jeremy Rosenberg
The signs that sign-spinners handle – so often deftly, so occasionally wondrously – are advertisements. The signs hype nearby condominiums or housing developments. Or an income tax preparation service. Or a discount pizzeria chain.
The best spinners, if you'd ask the people who hire them, are the spinners who bring new business to whatever the enterprise. The worst spinners, bring no business.The best spinners, if you'd ask the people who watch them work, are the ones who display the most artistry, athleticism, and attitude – part magicians, part drill team members, part hustlers.
Los Angeles' streetscapes brim with advertisements. Billboards, benches, buildings and buses are ad sites. So are bathrooms, wastebaskets, coffee cup sleeves and valet parking tickets. And the Internet, the radio airwaves, broadcast television, stencils on sidewalks, and stickers on the backs of street signs.
Sign-spinners are athletes. Sign-spinners are artists. Sign-spinners are engines of commerce. Advertising is the promise of a financial transaction. When a financial transaction occurs, it concludes with a signing on the dotted line.We’d like the sign-spinner to conclude his/her performance by signing the sign.The way an athlete gives an autograph to adoring fans.The way some artists punctuate their work.And the way a financial transaction, a commercial transaction, is concluded."We'd like to separate the sign-spinner from worrying about selling.We'd like the sign-spinner to perform with a blank sign.And we'd like him/her to do it in front of the Savoy condominiums in Little Tokyo, at 110 S. Alameda Street. This recently built complex is the sort of development where it would be no surprise to find sign-spinners, employed to help sell."
In each case, by signing.
Julie Pittman and Jeremy Rosenberg live in Los Angeles.
" My project for Economy of Gesture was designed in response to the discourse and controversy around Arizona’s SB1070, one of the strictest U.S. anti-immigration measures in decades. Part protest signs, part poetic choreography, the project uses the traditionally corporate platform of sign spinning to interject in the dynamics of our buzzing metropolis.”
Evelyn Serrano’s work is focused on context-specific practices that advance the impact of the arts as a tool for social change. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and organized and curated exhibitions, projects and art events throughout the United States as well as in Montevideo, Tel Aviv, Tijuana, and La Habana. Serrano currently teaches at the CalArts School of Art and the School of Theater, and has lectured and led workshops at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, the CEART in Mexicali, the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock, the University of Texas in Dallas, and the Instituto Superior de Diseño Industrial in La Habana. She is also the Assistant Director of Programs at the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP).