“Pyrotechnics will never go exactly according to plan,” Adela Goldbard told TSL. “And that’s an integral part of my work since I’m very interested in chance, the accidental, and the unexpected.”
Goldbard’s performance “A World of Laughter, A World of Fears” earlier this month did not go exactly to plan — a bus that was set to be ignited early in the performance remained intact and had to be manually detonated after the finale — but that’s not to discount the power of the spectacle, which involved plenty of explosions, smoke, sparkles, and a healthy dose of in-your-face, in-your-ears political commentary.
During the performance, each of the cacti spun in place and then disintegrated in flame, some sending debris flying like pinwheel sparklers.
Before moving to Bixby Plaza to be set ablaze, Goldbard’s installation was housed in the Pomona Art Museum as the centerpiece of their fall exhibition, “Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco.” The exhibition is part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA collaboration, a showcase of “Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.” Instillations are stationed around Southern California, including exhibitions at Scripps College’s Williamson Gallery and the Pitzer College Art Galleries.
According to the Pomona Art Museum’s website, the “Prometheus 2017” exhibition “examines the multiple ways Orozco’s vision resonates with four artists working in Mexico today.
Goldbard, an artist who splits her time between Mexico City and Chicago (where she is completing her MFA at the Art Institute) spent the last several months on site at Pomona constructing a Mexican landscape from paper mache and other highly flammable materials, with the decisive intent to blow it all up.
Enlisting the help of the Artsumex artist collective, Golbard and the team constructed cacti using traditional craft techniques with reeds. “My work could not be made without them,” Goldbard told LA Weekly in July.
The program stated that the Nov. 18 performance was based on a June 2016 conflict in Oaxaca, Mexico:
“On June 19, 2016, federal policemen tried to remove professors and parents blockading highways to protest education reforms. The protesters defended themselves with stones and DIY bazookas as they blocked the roadway with burning buses. The police responded with tear gas cans, rubber bullets, and automatic rifle fire, which the authorities denied.”
Goldbard wrote in an email to TSL after the event that her work, among other things, “intends to make visible obscured connections between events and discourses on both sides of the border.”