Rafa Esparza with Sebastian Hernandez, no water under the bridge, Fourth Street viaduct, March 15, 2014

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This past Saturday was a spectacular day for venturing outdoors to see art. Two major sculptural installations were unveiled in the late afternoon — Michael Parker’s The Unfinished at the L.A. River, and Finishing School’s We Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust on the Occidental College campus. But before that, Rafa Esparza enacted the first of two offsite performances planned to coincide with his solo exhibition at Vincent Price Art Museum.

no water under the bridge was performed under the bridge at Fourth and Lorena Streets in East L.A. This iconic viaduct, which has been used as a location in several popular films dealing with gang violence, provided a dramatic, sweeping, auditorium-like setting for Esparza’s performance, conducted in collaboration with artist Sebastian Hernandez.

Hernandez, who is also an Aztec dancer, performed a native dance in full costume while Esparza quietly responded to his movements in the background. This involved a number of actions that included the shedding of a significant amount of blood. Bundles of flowers were strategically hung in the performance area prior to the start of the dance, and taken down at its conclusion. This beautiful and wrenching ceremony lasted for almost two hours.

From the event description: “The iconic viaduct on 4th St and Lorena in Boyle Heights has made various cameos on popular films, such as Mi Familia, Blood in Blood Out, and Colors, that explore the intersection of history, violence, gang culture, the industrial prison complex, and Chicanidad. These films have helped construct internationally recognized identities/stereotypes of Latinos/as living in Los Angeles. In no water under the bridge Rafa along with Sebastian Hernandez will use these stereotypes, synthesizing them along with the bridge as material to both ‘wear themselves’ and ‘East L.A.,’ imagining then creating a space between their self-identifications and projected identities from an unknown public gaze.”

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