Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to present "Pumping", an installation of new videos, sculpture and photographs by Joel Tauber.
"Pumping" is an investigation of the early history of trains in Los Angeles and that history's intersection with water and oil resources. Looking at the history of the Southern Pacific Railroad which was largely responsible for transforming Los Angeles from a small town into a giant metropolis, the exhibition traces the two crucial resources for this development: water and oil. Throughout the project, Joel Tauber ponders the fragility and temporality of the city's foundation.
Consisting of a 3 channel video installation, a steel handcar displayed on 80 feet of railroad tracks, and a selection of accompanying photographs, the exhibition is Tauber's most ambitious sculptural installation to date. As in earlier projects, the artist is the central actor in this current narrative. Accompanied by a whispered monologue, we see him riding a hand-powered railcar on abandoned train tracks through the desert and pumping water from an old-fashioned water pump. The desert landscape suggests an unspecified future - one that lacks the infrastructure of the contemporary city, and suggests what Los Angeles might look like had it never been developed. There are no trains or oil, and there is little water in this imagined period. The future and the past are conflated through visual cues: the work was filmed using a 16mm hand-cranked camera and the photographic prints are distressed so that the installation looks like it was made at the dawn of the 20th century. These relationships are further elucidated through the narration which begins with a contemplation of Los Angeles in 1873, wonders about the promise of economic progress and the belief in corporate power and follows the city's rapid growth based on the illusion of a never ending supply of oil and water. Grappling with our past and potential futures, "Pumping" looks at our relationship with finite resources and with past expectations of this city's destiny.
Joel Tauber received his MFA from Art Center College of Design and his BA from Yale University. His work has been featured in the 2004 and 2008 California Biennials, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; in "Cluster Balloons: From Lawn Chairs to Cosmic Rays", Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Albuquerque, NM; in "No Matter. Failure and Art", Kunstverein Hildesheim, Germany; in "Flight Dreams", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia, Canada; in "Love is Like Oxygen", W139, Amsterdam, Netherlands; "The Gravity in Art", De Appel Centre For Contemporary Art, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and "Systems Theory", Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA. Film Festivals include the San Francisco Documentary Festival, Blue Planet Film Fest (Los Angeles), the Hartford International Film Festival, and the Downtown Film Festival - Los Angeles, where his movie, "Sick-Amour", was awarded "Best Green Film." Tauber won the 2007 Contemporary Collectors of Orange County Fellowship and the 2007-2008 CalArts / Alpert Ucross Residency Prize for Visual Arts.