High Desert Test Site. Spectacular Subdivision, Wonder Valley, California, 2014

Diopharma was a performance and installation mounted on a remote 40 acre site on the Iron Age Road in Wonder Valley in the Mojave desert as part of the group exhibition Spectacular Subdivision curated by Jay Lizo of Los Angeles based art collective Monte Vista Projects and co-organized by Hi –Desert Test Sites and the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts.In this dioramic makeshift spa environment I ground samples of earth, plant material and fragments of built structures taken from abandoned utopian experimental colonies located in northern Europe and the American south west and formed them into small, compressed medicinal pills. Utopian sites compacted into pills in this manner included the failed socialist colony of Llano del Rio in Southern California (1915-1918), Walden a former commune in the Netherlands, (1898-1907) and the famous Hill of Truth, Ascona, Switzerland.

Samples of pills from these sites were displayed in plastic ziplock bags alongside large (100 x 150 cm) installed photographs of the ruined chimney stacks of the Llano del Rio commune still standing 130 miles west of the Ironage site. The virtual chimney functioned as a two dimensional alchemist oven powered by a solar cell made from photographs taken from inside the chimney: Llano’s birth canal. Text signs on metal poles were dotted round the Diopharma site marking out possible sites of overlap and contradiction between private and communal space.

review: kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/san-bernardino/spectacular-subdivision-high-desert-test-sites.html

Photography by: Sinziana Velicescu, DH & Ranu We