Safe After Dark and Beautiful to Behold

One of the very cool things about growing up in Los Angeles was the sense I had, from an early age, that I was living in two dimensions simultaneously: One real, one myth. I always enjoyed the awareness that beyond my standard, day-to-day experience at home and at school, the city was steeped in legend and colored by the perceptions of each person who had came here in search of their own fairy tale. Every once in a while, I’ll see something that injects that old awareness of the city’s duality into my chest. Most recently, it was Chris Burden’s Urban Light outdoor installation at LACMA. More about the installation and a few extra pics after the jump.

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From the LACMA press release(PDF):

Chris Burden’s Urban Light incorporates 202 antique cast-iron lampposts from various cities in and around the Los Angeles area. In the 1920s, each city designed its own streetlamps as a form of public art and civic identity. Over the past seven years, Burden recovered and restored many of these vintage one-and-a-half ton lampposts. When they arrived at the artist’s compound in Topanga Canyon in pieces, they were sandblasted and missing parts, including the hand-blown glass lanterns and globes, were fabricated or salvaged from other lamps. They were then painted a medium grey and electrified. The artist painstakingly catalogued each streetlamp by individual type according to the year of its manufacture, its original location, its height, and the number of lamps it contains. Gathered into a whole, the artist describes the streetlamps as, “a statement about what constitutes a civilized and sophisticated society: safe after dark and beautiful to behold.”

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