OPINION: WeHo wants to spill ‘Flesh and Blood’ on the Sunset Strip
Don’t expect sunshine or rainbows in the first project commissioned by West Hollywood’s new MIMA (Moving Image Media Art) Program, which lets the city provide animated and augmented reality video content for the the Sunset Strip’s digital billboards.
For 10 minutes at the top of every hour, the Strip will be treated to Nancy Baker Cahill’s “Flesh and Blood,” an “abstract, visceral odyssey of a seed” that alludes to the “court-ordered and state-sanctioned intervention on bodies.”
Tourists who’ve spent thousands of dollars to get to West Hollywood will be greeted by a “life form that appears to spill out into the street, breaks free into a 3D augmented reality space, and then dissolves back into invisibility, using the technology of the billboard itself to signal the resulting erasure of women’s rights and agency.”
“Interrupting this journey will be a series of glitch sequences with textual content – some subliminal, some transparent, some opaque,” goes the staff report. “The textual content will include select works or phrases culled from moving first-hand accounts of lives affected by the court-ordered rulings and the final textual sequence will be a direct call to action to vote. ”
The not-so-subtle attempt at political persuasion seems meant for out-of-towners rather than West Hollywood residents, as abortion rights are now safely enshrined in the California constitution.
Despite its $185,000 price tag, City Council is likely to approve the project after they review it at their Monday night meeting. In 1992, WeHo became the first city in the United States to declare itself pro-choice, a position Council publicly re-affirmed after Roe v. Wade was struck down last year. More recently, the Council moved to prevent anti-abortion “pregnancy service centers” from misleading people about reproductive health services.
Cahill’s geolocated augment-reality installations have been exhibited globally and have earned her profiles in the New York Times, Frieze Magazine, and The Art Newspaper, among others. “Flesh and Blood” isn’t the first time she’s dipped her toes into the abortion debate. Her recent “State Property” exhibit (seen below) featured an “exploded uterus” floating over the Supreme Court and statehouses that have moved to restrict abortion rights, such as those in Florida and Texas.