TERMINAL ISLAND, 2020

For several months, I was on a mission to find predatory lending posters to tear down. Found on utility poles suspiciously promising a lending hand to the needy, I utilize their size, verbiage, and quantity, realizing how similar they are, related through vague word play and phone numbers with no name reference.  Wording like:

 

FIX YOUR CREDIT

 

HOME LOAN 2.75%

 

WILL CASH APP YOU $5 RIGHT NOW

 

Are these exploitative and predatory in nature? Do they facilitate a need where other institutions might have failed a circle of society? Or is it both?

 

Inhabiting the same space as these posters are massive arrays of shipping yards, filled with containers, topped four-five stories high. Are they empty or full? How long will they sit there? This information is concealed. Their numbers never seem to dwindle or rise, in fact, they appear static to me, part of a never changing industrial landscape. Metal fabricators, junkyards, and warehouses; jobs supplemental to the surrounding shipyards and refineries, live in vast multitudes, creating a perception of dispensability. Grimy by nature, their location is not much better. The space is constantly and consistently pummeled by dark clouds of soot and colorless gases like sulfur dioxide, intermingled with a reeking wasteland of piss and shit that sits outside their borders. It is here where I find the abandoned tires. And not just a couple, but dozens, too many for me to haul in a few trips. 

 

Fundamental to the works in this show are the processes of layering, removing, and the fragmenting of surface and text - heavily influenced by artists like Mark Bradford and the European décollage artists of the 1950s and 60s. In works like “End of Shift”, I employ a strenuous, physical exertion - drawing and adding to the list of Richard Serra’s action verbs. Throwing, pounding, and scraping; actions not only pertaining to making the body of work, but also drawing correlation to manual labor found throughout construction and manufacturing areas.

 

Objects and materials are pulled from a detritus of sorts, often found discarded roadside in heaps of trash or ignored and overlooked on busy intersections; characteristics, I find, undeniably more common to blue-collar neighborhoods. Layers of ubiquitous materials like concrete and cardboard are built up and torn down, creating an impression of organic disintegration while others, such as the tire marks, are more mechanical and systematic in their process. Tires are methodically tossed and thrashed, leaving behind a sooty smear on the walls. I relate this to the manufacturing and industrial workplace, where employers often expect their employees to have a routine, machine-like performance. Most often encumbered with low wages and long hours, these people are essential workers, who help to keep the economy and our way of life afloat, though much like the farm workers and those in the meatpacking industry, they too are often regarded expendable.

 

In Terminal Island, I am interested in examining the environment of a working-class space - the space I was born and continue to live in. Specifically by engaging with the power relations of debt, the Port of Los Angeles, and to a certain degree, the neighboring oil refineries, and their relationship to labor, waste, and the exploitative socioeconomic conditions of the surrounding area. Taking its name from the near-by artificial peninsula, Terminal Island is an exhibition dedicated to a place where the proletariat serves as the backbone for heavy industry and big business.

​© Edgar Ramirez 2020

  • Instagram Clean