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South Central Farms: The Documentary
South Central Farm


Via del.icio.us/criticalspatialpractice, we learned that a documentary feature has been made about South Central Farms.

In our very nascent days, we reported about these community gardens. This is what we wrote:

For over a decade, a group of mostly immigrant families have been tilling a colorful patchwork of thriving farms in one of the most industrialized landscape of Los Angeles. Out of concrete and asphalt, a community of urban farmers have cultivated a whole variety of fruiting trees, cash crops and vegetables. Growing in the shadow of power lines and skyscrapers are avocado, guavas, bananas and peach trees, as are sugarcane, corn, cactus, lettuce, winter squash, broccoli and lettuce. The list surely contains a lot more, but all are harvested not just for food but also for medicine and to supplement low incomes by selling them.

But all of that — perhaps the largest urban community garden in the US — may be uprooted, paved over and replaced by a supersize warehouse not unlike what is already littering the place.


It is by no surprise that we found ourselves imagining what would have been if some pieces of this mosaic of Edens had survived and then wholly transplanted to another place, kept nurtured there and its fruits continued to be harvested until this summer, when it would have been wholly transplanted again all the way to Venice for this year's Architecture Biennale. Rather than a garden installation by Kathryn Gustafson (x2), visitors find a replicant urban farm with migrant workers tilling its soil. Instead of an allegory of earthly dilemmas, one is immediately confronted with the real world of real issues: environmental and social justice, globalization, the geopolitics of displacement, gentrification, etc. And instead of achieving enlightenment through heavyhanded formalism, overly programmed narrative and yesteryear's signification, you enter into a real dialogue with the gardeners and are truly made aware.

In any case, screenings of the movie are very sporadic at the moment and probably will remain so, unless it finds a distributor. We hope a DVD will be released soon.

You can watch the trailer, meanwhile.
6 COMMENTS —
  • Natalie
  • October 9, 2008 at 1:08:00 AM CDT
  • Any word on why Gustafson got put off? I heard a schtick about their plan from one of the principles at GGN in Seattle as late as this August.


  • Anonymous
  • October 18, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM CDT
  • screens tomorrow in Chicago as part of the Film Festival


  • Anonymous
  • October 18, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM CDT
  • This seems to be a lazy attempt at regurgitating the old cliche of unnecessary "debate" between art and non-fiction. It is bizarre to pit a temporary art piece against a literal news event to measure the value of the art. Who in landscape architecture is still gullible enough to be trapped in the false choice between "art or ecology," buying the notion that one threatens the other?


  • Alexander Trevi
  • October 18, 2008 at 3:31:00 PM CDT
  • This seems to be a lazy attempt at regurgitating the old cliche of unnecessary "debate" between art and non-fiction. It is bizarre to pit a temporary art piece against a literal news event to measure the value of the art. Who in landscape architecture is still gullible enough to be trapped in the false choice between "art or ecology," buying the notion that one threatens the other?

    Huh? Was I not arguing for more critical engagement between art and non-fiction? Between more socially and politically engaged art and art of other realms? Or is that the actual "old cliche," since all previous instances of this "debate" had settled all pertinent issues and couldn't now effect an intended transformation?


  • Anonymous
  • October 19, 2008 at 2:11:00 AM CDT
  • I thought you were formulating something "after Art" or "after Ecology" or both. "After Gustafson"?


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