The sign outside the Watts Towers Art Center | Still from "The Watts Towers Arts Center" ab s11 episode image

Homer's Odyssey Performed in a Honda Odyssey

In Partnership with Machine Project as part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. Machine Project asked artists to take on the whole environment of Los Angeles and create performances shot on video and edited into short experimental films in response to notable architectural sites throughout the city.

For The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, I chose the famed Los Angeles freeway system as the architectural site my performance would respond to. When I thought about stories to tell around the concept of the journey, Homer's "The Odyssey" seemed like the archetypal and ideal choice. I began considering what's at the heart of this ancient tale, and found that it is a story of a man trying to get home. Many Los Angeles commuters can surely relate to that feeling.

My piece is an adaptation of episode five, which begins with Odysseus having been trapped on the sorceress Calypso's island for seven years. She holds him there as her love slave. At the start of chapter five, the gods decide to help poor Odysseus out of his predicament, and so they dispatch Hermes to persuade Calypso to let Odysseus go free. After a rousing speech about the double standards of the male gods, Calypso relents to Zeus's will, and Odysseus travels home by sea-raft.

In my version, however, she does not relent, but stands her fierce ground, eventually using her witchery to get both the god and her man back to her cave. The play takes place in a Honda Odyssey minivan while it journeys around the Los Angeles freeway, for two people at a time.

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The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center was founded by artists and educators in the 1960s and has been a beacon of art and culture in the community for decades. This episode features the work of artists including Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar, Charles White and Mark Steven Greenfield.

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