As part of the lead up to the opening of LAForum’s Summer Exhibition, “Every. Thing. Changes.” LAForum will interview each of the 20 participants in their collaborative groups, or “families.” The following E.T.C. “family” of participants interviewed here are: Lisa Teasley (author and artist), Imogen Teasley-Vlautin (artist and composer), Silvia Herrasti and Paulina Herrasti (artists) and MUTUO (Fernanda Oppermann and Jose Herrasti, architects).

The newly commissioned texts and visual works exhibited in “Every. Thing. Changes.” were developed over the course of spring 2020, and are the outcomes of a “call and response” process between five initial L.A.-based writers, their texts, and the visual responses of designers and artists.

This interview was conducted on July 8, 2020.


Lisa, the topic given to the writers to ponder was “L.A. in the ‘20s” how did you decide to approach the topic? And what does the vision of the future, next-decade L.A. look like to you?

LT: As an L.A. native, I have lived in various neighborhoods such as Baldwin Hills, Koreatown, Venice, the Adams District, Mar Vista and Laurel Canyon, among others, and so have walked and driven through the ever-changing psychogeography of the city over the decades. But what has been consistent is the presence of a rich and culturally diverse population. As a passionate world traveler, I love that I come home to as many stories as wherever I have just left. The idea of the Castle as a setting of awe and beauty for diverse collaborations is a longtime vision of mine, and upon this opportunity for the LA Forum show, I seized the chance to explore it as a collaborative vision for the infinite ways I could have never thought of—just as next-decade L.A. will continue to mirror the ever-changing globe.

Imogen, Silvia, Paulina, Fernanda and Jose, what are you producing for the exhibition and what do you want folks to know most about your response to Lisa’s text?

ITV: I am producing a sound piece with the intentions of resonating the imagined space that is the Castle. I want the music to illustrate the magic of the ever-present creative energy in the Castle, and reflect the lively, collaborative spirit that Lisa describes in her written piece.

MUTUO: Lisa’s ‘The Castle in the Trees’ describes a space of collaboration in Los Angeles. As we were thinking about our response to Lisa’s text it only made sense to expand the collaborative spirit. Mutuo decided to invite a group of talented recent graduate architects and architecture students to build an assemblage of pieces. This assemblage of pieces will be the physical manifestation of a group interpretation of what a castle may mean. After a few back-and-forth discussions with this young group of collaborators, Mutuo is writing non-prescriptive, perhaps even poetic instructions for them, giving leeway for interpretation and creative individuality. Our guest collaborators are: Irving Estrada Alvarez, Mónica Lamela Blázquez, Luis Montoya, Alejandra Novelo, Kamila Weiss & Kanata Yamayoshi.

SH & PH: We will be presenting a mixed media diptych that includes a hand-embroidered piece with appliqués, and a color photograph of an assemblage of found objects. We decided to create a composition that relates to any culture and society around the world.

And how are you translating Lisa’s text to a site and/or to a formal idea?

ITV: I want to acknowledge the multi-layered relationship between sound and space within the walls of the Castle by creating a piece that symbolically fills the space Lisa envisions, and portrays the energy and activity she describes by using specific sounds to represent bits of the imagery she gave us.

MUTUO: We are interpreting the text both literally and figuratively. The making of the object itself is a direct response to the text.

SH & PH: The embroidery in our piece depicts the landscape leading to the Castle of Trees, and the actual fort. The assemblage resembles the façade of a castle, with symbolic meanings conveyed through each component.

Has the pandemic quarantine or creating and collaborating remotely influenced your production?

LT: As a writer and a visual artist I am used to creating at home alone, even my work as an editor at Los Angeles Review of Books is done remotely, so initially upon the pandemic, my work life had not changed significantly. But with the addition of this tremendous opportunity to collaborate on the Castle project with visionaries like the architects Fernanda and Jose, the artists Silvia and Paulina, and the musician/composer, Imogen, the entire process has buoyed me tremendously during this most uncertain time in history, that is being felt and experienced the world over.

ITV: Quarantine hasn’t had a huge effect on the way I produce creative work because I tended to work alone even before the pandemic. However, I had been craving more creative collaboration and this time has catalyzed, out of necessity, a lot of innovation in how we create, share, and experience work, which has been inspiring to me as I’ve found myself collaborating much more with brilliant artists in projects such as this, and experiencing creative work more often even if virtually.

MUTUO: The quarantine has offered a re-thinking of what an exhibition might be. We have structured the fabrication of our object so that there are no overlaps and our collaborators can be safe.

SH & PH: We had thought about having random participants in public space help build the assemblage for our piece, which was not possible because of the pandemic.

Question for all of you: What’s been the most surprising thing about the collaboration or the development of the exhibition in general?

LT: I have to say that the most surprising thing about this collaboration is the bursts of emotion I’m experiencing, the sheer elation it has brought to my life during such a trying moment in history. The fact that this LAForum exhibition is happening, at all — the fact that the show will go on — I consider to be a tremendous gift.

MUTUO: The surprising part is that even though it is a complex exhibit with many participants, it has run relatively smoothly. I wonder if it would have been more difficult doing it with personal meetings. The flexibility because of the pandemic has been great. I also wonder if adopting more flexible systems is a part of the new normal.

ITV: I can’t say that I’ve been surprised but I am immensely grateful and excited to be a part of this project, and in particular I really appreciate, to touch on what Fernanda and Jose said, being able to witness and participate in a complex exhibition that has been adapted so creatively to work within the limitations of the pandemic.

SH & PH: Agree with the Imogen and the MUTUO team (big thumbs up emoji !!)

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