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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000

Ken Gonzales-Day

Run Up

Apr 04 - May 09, 2015

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press release




April 4 - May 9, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 4, 6-8 PM

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to present the premiere of Ken Gonzales-Day's newest series of photographs and his first film: RUN UP, on view from April 4 through May 9, 2015. An artist's reception will be held on Saturday, April 4th, from 6 to 8 pm. RUN UP received support from Creative Capital, which Gonzales-Day was awarded in 2012. The gallery will host an informal breakfast and artist talk moderated by Kate Palmer Albers, Ph.D., to coincide with Paris Photo Los Angeles, on Sunday, May 3rd, from 8 to 11 am. The talk will begin at 9:30am.

RUN UP is the latest chapter in Ken Gonzales-Day's acclaimed Erased Lynching series, selections of which have been acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, the Norton Museum of Art and numerous private collections, and have also been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Vienna, Mexico City, and Bogota, among others.

The central work in the exhibition will be a new short film and still images of a reenactment inspired by a 1920 lynching of a Latino in California. Gonzales-Day created the film and related photographic series to bring greater visibility to the presence of Latino's in the history of lynching in the United States and to draw parallels between the past and the present. Unlike previous bodies of work in which Gonzales-Day used found or archival imagery, the restaging highlights not only the history of lynching nationwide but contemporary events like Ferguson.

The film and related photographs depict events surrounding the lynching of Charles Valento, also known as "Spanish Charley", who was one of three men (two white and one Latino) to be lynched in Santa Rosa, California, in 1920. The details surrounding the case were drawn from the Coroner's report and Gonzales-Day's own archival research that strongly suggests that police officers were present at the 1920 lynching - which the press mischaracterized as mob vigilantism.

The primary difference between this project and conventional narrative depictions of lynching and vigilantism previously found in films - ranging from Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns to Steve McQueen's recent 12 Years a Slave - is that in RUN UP the victim's body is not visible in the final moments of the scene. The absence of the lynching victim intentionally seeks to disrupt the normative power of racial victimization, raise awareness about America's lynching victims (Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans) and reflect on the broader question of capital punishment and police brutality currently taking place in this country.

Ken Gonzales-Day states:

"In making the film, I felt like the restaging of a 1920 lynching was relevant to our own times, not simply because the topic has never been the subject of a major (or minor) film, but because so many aspects of the Latino experience are not even recognized as part of the American experience."

Accompanying the film and images of the reenactment are stills shot in Los Angeles during the protest marches that took place in the days following the Grand Jury's decision in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, on August 9, 2014.

A third series of images document the destructive aftermath of the riots in locations throughout the city of Ferguson as well as images documenting memorials honoring Ezell Ford, a mentally ill young man killed by police in South Los Angeles two days after Michael Brown's death. (Less familiar is the death of Omar Abrego, a Mexican-American man who died in Los Angeles one week earlier on August 3rd, 2014, after being brutally beaten by police - just four blocks from where Ford was shot and killed.)

In combining these seemingly distant events, the exhibition draws parallels between the history of lynching and police shootings today, at times blending the two events to create images that collapse history and provocatively speak to our own time.

Ken Gonzales-Day lives and works in Los Angeles, and is professor of art at Scripps College, Claremont, CA. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the first LACMA Photo Arts Council (PAC) Prize, Creative Capital Award; Chercheur Accueilli, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art (INHA); COLA (City of Los Angeles) Individual Artist Award; Art Matters Grant; California Community Foundation/Getty Trust Mid-Career Award; Durfee Fondation ACG; Graves Award for the Humanities; Visiting Scholar/Artist-in-Residence, Getty Research Institute; Senior Fellow, American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution; Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy; and, Van Lier Fellow, ISP (Independent Study Program), Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.