50 years ago, a shiny, postwar Los Angeles was a model of the new American Dream. The nascent suburban plan promised single-family homes and grassy yards for all. A glossy Oldsmobile in the driveway navigated down ribbons of shimmering, empty freeways. Yet several decades later, Angelenos agree that seemingly utopian vision didn’t quite deliver. Those wide streets are now choked with traffic, acres of lawns are running low on water to keep them green, and the city’s urban culture suffers from its sprawling disconnectedness.
Los Angeles is uniquely poised to deliver a new vision of the American Dream.
But Los Angeles, as one of the world’s most prodigious producers and exporters of new ideas, is also uniquely poised to deliver a new vision of the American Dream. That’s the idea behind a new exhibition Rethink LA: Perspectives on the Future City, which opened last week at the city’s A+D Museum. Rethink LA, which is also a collective of creatives, asked L.A. residents ranging from writers to filmmakers to visualize idealistic descriptions of a sustainable, mobile Los Angeles that thrives 50 years in the future.
To create the exhibition, Rethink LA asked artists, photographers, architects, planners, and policy-makers to create visionary collages based on photos taken of current-day Los Angeles infrastructure. Contributors include multidisciplinary design firm Rios Clementi Hale, “Edible Estates” artist Fritz Haeg, and Los Angeles City Council president Eric Garcetti. In addition, nine narrators (disclosure: including myself) penned stories envisioning different aspects of L.A.’s future which were made into short films and audio narrations.
But fanciful renderings are not the only element of the exhibition. As part of its dedication to plot real-world, solution-based change, the show will also offer interactive elements and community events. This Thursday night the group hopes to bring one aspect of L.A.’s inevitable future to life by envisioning a city that’s independent of the automobile. The event, named Moving Beyond Cars, asks all attendees to arrive on bike, foot or via public transportation — and will be awarding prizes for the longest or most creative journeys.