Las Cienegas Projects is pleased to present PACHUCO CADAVER OR THERE ARE NO HEAVIES IN AMERICA, a collaborative, research-based installation by Vincent Ramos and Diego J. Garza exploring notions of biography, speculation, and poetics surrounding the Chicano activist and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta. Both Ramos and Garza have maintained an ongoing interest in Acosta’s life and role in the cultural and socio-political events of the 1960s and ‘70s. It was while initiating research at the L.A. Central Library that the artists discovered a photograph from the (now defunct) Herald Examiner’s original image archive. Dated June 9, 1969, the photo depicts Acosta walking with four other men into Parker Center while turning themselves in for charges stemming from a fire bombing incident at the Biltmore Hotel–a protest act against (then) Governor Ronald Reagan’s visit to the site. Acosta served as the lawyer for the defense.
Upon closely observing the photograph, the pair became fascinated by the very distinct briefcase held by Acosta–an object packed with inherent period symbology for its distinct floral motif. Reminiscent of the then-waning, so-called “Flower Power” generation, this object’s outer skin, seen through a current lens, calls attention to itself as a cultural signifier of a very specific time. Since that initial archival finding, the pair became further interested in speculating upon the briefcase’s unknown, innermost contents.
For the exhibition at Las Cienegas Projects, Ramos and Garza take on an exploration of these very notions of inside/outside and the private within the public. Attempting to understand both the man and the era within this dual context, Ramos and Garza have set up an exercise in conceptually-driven aesthetic associations, generated through research, museological display, object making, and fantasy.
Vincent Ramos was born in Santa Monica, California. He received a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design in 2002 and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include Outsider Art: Others From Elsewhere Doing Something Altogether Different…Sort Of, 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica (2011) and Motown Took Us There and Motown Brought Us Back, Crisp London/Los Angeles (2008). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including All Time Greatest, FOCA, Los Angeles (2009); Post-American L.A., 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica (2009); and NY/LA: Artists from New York and Los Angeles, GBK Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2008). He is currently in the process of curating a group exhibition, tentatively entitled 8/29/70, for the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College that will open in the fall of 2011. His work has been written about in X-TRA, ARTFORUM.com, Art Week, and the Los Angeles Times. Ramos is a 2010 recipient of the California Community Foundations Emerging Artist Fellowship. He was raised, lives and works in Venice, California.
Diego J. Garza lives and works in Los Angeles. He is amused by tall-tales, local legends, questionable myths, subcultures and oppressive hierarchies, all of which inform his inter-disciplinary practice. He received a BA in Studio Art as well as Film & Visual Cultures from the University of California, Riverside in 2004, and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2006. Garza is currently trying to learn the essential Black Sabbath bass riffs, the early years.
Oscar Zeta Acosta was an attorney, writer, and activist. He participated in many key events in Los Angeles’ cultural, political, and social history during his time, including running for sheriff of Los Angeles County on a singular platform that promised to completely abolish the sheriff’s department if and when he won the election. His myriad of roles essentially made him a lightning rod for controversy that still plagues him, or his memory, to this day. He is probably best known as the infamous Dr. Gonzo in the classic American novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, written by fellow cultural anarchist, Hunter S. Thompson. Acosta was an accomplished novelist in his own right, publishing two books before his disappearance in Mexico in 1974. Both Autobiography of A Brown Buffalo (1972) and The Revolt of the Cockroach People (1973) have become classics within the Chicano literary canon and remain relevant for their vivid portrayals of the socio-political struggles of the Chicano people in the United States, specifically in Los Angeles, at that time.