Rabobank Art Offer 2021
The annual Art Offer for employees and art lovers!
This year we are collaborating with the well-known photographer Dana Lixenberg (1964), who has been portraying the community of Imperial Courts - a social housing project in the Watts neighbourhood in Watts, Los Angeles - for almost thirty years. Especially for Rabobank, she selected one of the photos from this award-winning series 'Imperial Courts' for an edition.
Courtesy of the artist and GRIMM Amsterdam | New York
In 1993, Dana Lixenberg (1964) drove into the infamous Imperial Courts, for the first time with gang member and leader of the PJ Watts Crips, Tony Bogard next to her in the passenger seat. He introduced her to his community. It was just after the height of racial tensions in L.A. and violent uprising following the acquittal of four white police officers involved in the brutal beating of Rodney King.
No place for a young white woman, you might say. But nothing could be further from the truth, Lixenberg built up a relationship of trust with the residents of Imperial Courts over the years, and continued to visit and document the district regularly over a period of almost thirty years. This resulted in an extensive series of black-and-white portraits and landscapes, a book, sound and video installation.
She got to know the residents, made friends and followed the community for years; now even for several generations. By working with a large-format camera, there is room for stillness and intimacy in the work process. The living conditions in the neighborhood are extreme, but the portraits regular people: families and street scenes without drama and the usual gang related signifiers. With the series Imperial Courts, Lixenberg has created an impressive monument for and about the community, its residents and their complex lives, and won important photography awards with it for a reason.
Rabobank Art Offer
The photo that Dana Lixenberg selected for this year's Art Offer was made in Imperial Courts in 2008/2009, during the period when she continued to photograph in the community for the first time since 1993.
"I wanted to explore the role of color. Because of the vibrant presence of color in this community. The pastel-colored housing blocks, faded by the Californian sun, flashy cars, blue or pale skies, foliage in various hues of green."
This resulted in a small set of color photographs, an exception to the rest of the Imperial Courts series which consists of black-and-white photographs. The image that Lixenberg chose for the Art Offer has never been presented before.
The photo is recognizable, but also a bit enigmatic. Is it actually a real plant, or is it made of plastic? "The colour green on the wall is typical of Imperial Courts," says Lixenberg. "And the resident has created a small garden with this plant and the stones around it." On the floor is a cigarette butt, a plastic cap, a grape and a piece of paper with the text WIN and a lotterynumber. Lixenberg brings all those elements together in a wonderful way in this beautiful photo; the sunlight that falls through the trees on the wall ánd the plant; the paint stripe on the wall and the small bits of waste littered around it. They are hinting at a larger story.