In her third solo exhibition at Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles-based photographer Christina Fernandez presents a fresh continuation of her ongoing series Serano (2005 – to present). Furthering her inquiry into the intersection between landscape photography and urban spaces, these images focus on parks and other public places in and around Los Angeles. All are located in her neighborhood or close to her studio. These sites, though utilized by the broader community, have a personal connection to the artist.
Generally, Fernandez’s Serano images that depict open spaces often include discarded furniture, Christmas trees, and other detritus that the viewer can easily identify as superfluous residue of urban culture. Expertly combining the seemingly objective approach of a documentarian with subtle hints of emotional involvement, Fernandez invites a personal dimension of topographic photography. Through the inclusion of both open spaces and miscellaneous debris, Christina’s photographs examine personal, albeit submerged elements of personal life abandoned in the public realm.
Fernandez’s work has always addressed multiple subjects including labor, gender, and migration via both documentary photography and conceptual photography. Continually drawing on the landscape of Los Angeles, she captures the landscape and diverse cultures that flourish here. In her previous series Manuela S-T-I-T-C-H-E-D (1996), she photographed non-descript concrete sweatshops surrounding downtown
Los Angeles, she combined narrative text with the images, giving viewers a political context for her urban images. With Serano, Fernandez eliminates all text. This streamlines and simplifies the body of work, but allows for a broad range of interpretations. One possible interpretation of Bench (Deb’s Park) is that the unfocused background points to the vast distance between the dream of home ownership in LA and the reality of life in the midst of the economic downturn. The closest many Angelinos will get to a house in the suburbs is sitting on this bench. Works such as Couch or Encampment II offer both a meditation on the serenity of the neighborhood and a sense of loss and ruin indicated by decomposing furniture, dry brush, and brown, blatantly denying the image of a “golden” California landscape.
Serano displays the depth and breadth of Fernandez’s approach to topographic photography. In this new series, Christina’s rigorous and elegant transformation of the gallery transcends the often-depicted barren landscape of Los Angeles by providing an intimate survey of her immediate surroundings.
Christina Fernandez’s work has been exhibited in major museums throughout the United States since the early 1990s. Among the many landmark exhibitions she has participated in are How Many Billboards? / Art In Stead, MAK Center for Art & Architecture, Los Angeles (2010), the traveling exhibition Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008) and This Side of Paradise: Body and Language in L.A. Photography, Huntington Museum, San Marino, CA (2008). Fernandez is represented in the permanent collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture, Los Angeles, as well as The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts.