A Searing Show Commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the 1992 LA Uprising

By Matt Tromberg for HYPERALLERGIC April 28, 2017 –

Re-Imagine Justice at the Community Coalition takes a deeper look at the causes of the uprising while highlighting current issues of injustice and inequality.

LOS ANGELES — A bank of TV sets flicker on and off one by one, each showing a different media clip from the early 1990s: gang members being interviewed, talking heads spewing political punditry, videos of looting and burning buildings. Then, they all turn on, showing the same footage of a man lying on a darkened stretch of road, illuminated only by headlights, surrounded by several LAPD officers, who proceed to taser, kick, and hit him with their batons for several minutes — instantly recognizable as the 1991 Rodney King beating.

This incident and the officers’ subsequent acquittal is seen as the spark that ignited the 1992 LA Uprising — generally referred to as the LA Riots at the time — which resulted in dozens of deaths and the burning of a thousand buildings throughout South LA. The installation is part of an exhibition, Re-Imagine Justice, mounted by the South LA-based community organization Community Coalition, that aims to take a deeper look at the causes of the uprising, explore the neighborhood’s transformation, and highlight current issues of injustice and inequality.

The show combines contemporary artwork, archival material, and media installations to present a complex portrait of the unrest and its aftermath, foregrounding the perspectives of people from the area who lived through and were affected by these events. “Most of the artists are from South LA,” one of the exhibition’s organizers, Cristina Pacheco, told Hyperallergic. “That was critical. We wanted space for the community to tell their own story.”

One such space is a room remade in the guise of a looted liquor store, in disarray and covered in graffiti. Six video monitors are inset into the walls, playing firsthand accounts of the unrest. “That’s one of the most fascinating things about this,” said Pacheco, “that everyone has a different narrative about what 1992 was. You sit in this room and you hear the six stories, and where they were.” Titled “Stories of 1992,” the concept for the piece came from Ariana Del Carmen Manson, a high schooler who is involved in the organization’s student leader program, and realized by a team of collaborators…

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