The LA Forum for Architecture and Design is holding a panel discussion at the Hammer tonight. Centered on Zoe Crosher’s monograph, “Out the Window: LAX”, the discussion will be on “the role that such publications might play in evolution of the built environment,” and will feature writer Norman Klein, writers and urbanists John Chase and Alan Loomis, and art critic Michael Ned Holte.
Of those, I’m only familiar with the work of Norman Klein, but that’s because I own his book, “The History of Forgetting,” which has been extremely influential on how I view Los Angeles. The idea of history and memory is one I picked up in a senior level college course, and I didn’t get it until I came here. Klein’s book focuses on the neighborhoods immediately west of downtown, on the very eastern blocks of Sunset, and on how the communities surrounding the downtown core have been shifted, changed and forgotten. As neighborhoods disappear and shift under failed city policy, historical significance is forgotten. Who remembers now that where the Public Storage is on Glendale in Echo Park, there was once a major motion picture studio?
The panel tonight at the Hammer doesn’t relate directly to Klein’s book, but I imagine he’ll have something to say about how architecture and its perceived permanence and importance contribute to memory, which, in turn, preserves history. And decentralization and lack of architecture are two of the biggest perceived negatives in L.A. urbanism. Crosher’s bio says she focuses on Los Angeles’ “resistance to being pictured,” in its lack of center and state of perpetual motion. I think there something connected between the art, architecture and urban history – it’s all just how it’s expressed.