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Universal Dissolvent: Fragments from the Southern California Megalopolis

  • San Diego Art Institute 1439 El Prado San Diego, CA, 92101 United States (map)

Curated by SDAI Curator-in-Residence Alex Young, Universal Dissolvent is an exhibition an in-progress archive showcasing artists whose work confronts the challenges of the Southern California megalopolis and address the spatial, historical, and social conditions of the region and its geopolitical 'centers': Los Angeles and San Diego/Tijuana. 

The individuals, collaboratives, and collectives within employ multiple disciplines and critical approaches toward a diverse set of concerns into the past, present, and future shaping of the urban totality of Southern California. The exhibition is comprised of projects, spanning over 20 years, including new and rarely seen works, providing insight into a breadth of critical regional practice from recent history.

Examining the urban geography of Southern California--its environment, its political and spatial organization, and its position within broader collective consciousness--the exhibition seeks to probe the specificity of the region, its reputed exceptionalism, and its argued place as the paradigmatic American metropolis for the 20th and 21st centuries. The apparent product of an impossible practice--like alchemy or utopia--Southern California, through the intervention of waves of enterprising inhabitants (boosters, engineers, real estate schemers, and dreamers of edenic abundance), has in the course of little over a century transformed from a semi-arid desert environment and a few sun-blasted frontier towns into the home of the world's largest bi-national conurbation, the nation's second largest city, the continent's fourth largest megapolitan population, its busiest shipping port, and a dominant global force within everything from popular culture and consumer products to engineering, urban planning, and intellectual discourse.

Artists in the exhibition include: Monica ArreolaNatalie BookchinLouis HockJanet Koenig & Gregory SholetteLos Angeles Poverty DepartmentCharles G. MillerThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colonia LibertadOwen MundyGabriela Torres Olivares & Omar PimientaBob ParisThe Periscope Project, Nils Schirrmacher, and SPURSE.

Later Event: April 18
53rd International Show