In partnership with 18th Street Arts Center: 18th Street Arts Center is an artists' residency program that provokes public dialogue through contemporary art-making.
Artist and filmmaker Paul Pescador isn’t afraid of big topics. Only 35 years old and he’s already completed an experimental narrative film that covers the history of Los Angeles. He’s now working on another looking at different civic departments operate. But, for his residency at 18th Street Arts Center, Pescador combined both Los Angeles and his lived experience, creating a feature-length film called “Going West or 15 Years in L.A.” The film tackles his time in four of L.A.’s neighborhoods — University Park, Melrose, Highland Park and Santa Monica — and how each have morphed in the years since he came to the city.
“I’ve been thinking about L.A., as a site — its relationship to Hollywood and what it means to live here,” said Pescador about the project’s origins. “How do we remember the city?”
Unlike straightforward documentaries, Pescador’s film intersperses his personal narration with interviews of longtime residents. Appropriated video clips, actual footage and line drawings populate the feature, creating an almost stream of consciousness parade of imagery that coalesces into a single narrative.
Pescador’s film is more than a personal journey, however, by incorporating the voices of longtime residents and experts, the artist’s film also captures the complexities of living in Los Angeles and the layers and layers of memory it hosts to its adopted Angelenos.
As part of his process, Pescador also produced photographs, which he drew on using oil, paint and then re-photographed. "I'm not drawing a new image, merely highlighting, retracing and pulling out things that are already there," says Pescador. "Drawing here feels similar to moving through these spaces again. I'm trying to understand what's in front of me."
Pescador says his investigation wasn’t just a creative exercise, it also helped him gain a deeper understanding of Los Angeles. Take for example, his research on the Pico neighborhood in Santa Monica. He says, “I didn’t realize how racially complex it was, how many different groups of people were uprooted because of the Japanese internment, redlining and racial covenants. I realized, it isn’t a coincidence where pockets of people ended up. I gained a lot more understanding of how Los Angeles has shifted from a sleepy town one of the largest metropolitans in the country.”
Listen to Pescador speak about his work and watch a few moments below:
Click below to see more of Pescador's photographs and video stills:
Top Image: Paul Pescador, "Sunset Park" 2018. Digital C-Print. | Courtesy of the artist