East First Street

October 8 to October 31, 2004

Featuring works by:

Carla Herrera-Prats and Dee Williams

“East First Street” is a collaboration of projects by Carla Herrera-Prats and Dee Williams that is shown at Art2102 at 2102 East First Street in Boyle Heights. The installation of Carla Herrera Prats brings together photographs in slide form, of all the places on East First Street where money can be wired to Mexico. Wire transfer businesses conduct the transaction of the second largest source of foreign income to Mexico. Herrera-Prats generates a relationship between these color slide projections and a sound recording of an excerpt of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”. Published in 1939, this novel brought attention to the living conditions of migrant farm workers who were forced to travel within the United States in search of economic stability.

The work of Dee Williams examines one particular point in the history of the Benjamin Franklin Branch library, located at 2200 East First Street in Boyle Heights. In 1917, the steel industrialist, Andrew Carnegie donated a building for the library, which was later damaged in an earthquake in 1971. The building remained unoccupied for several years. The resulting debates about the function of a library are represented in photographs of material from library books and City Council records.

The relationship between these two projects is traceable in a printed piece, produced jointly by the two artists and available for distribution in the exhibition space. In this work, the selection of historical figures, and their positions relative to immigration, education and cultural production addresses the exhibition as a whole.

The access to information, the conditions for education and the circulation of knowledge are ongoing concerns in the work of both artists in their individual as well as their collaborative practice. Together, they produced a work about the library of an art school located in Mexico City for an exhibition at Centro Nacional de las Artes.
Participants in this exhibition were asked to list what they considered the most influential books they read during their studies at the school. A poster was produced which listed the books in such a way that a comparison was possible between the interests of the different generations. The availability of the books in the library was also noted. The poster was distributed for free in the exhibition space.

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