Blue Book / Silver Book

April 11 – June 28, 2015
Skid Row History Museum & Archive
440 S. Broadway, LA, CA 90013 – mezzanine level

Exhibition, April 11- June 28:

SRHMAJohnopeningdownload BLUE BOOK / SILVER BOOK:
making transparent the role urban design plays in determining the fate of communities

This exhibition “ Blue Book / Silver Book” historically contextualizes both adoption of the city plan that saved the low income housing in Skid Row (known as the Blue Book) and the defeat of a front running alternative “Silver Book” plan that proposed “massive development of the area.” In the wake of the clear-cutting of historic Bunker Hill in 1955, Skid Row was headed for a similar “redevelopment,” under a proposed general development plan known as the “Silver Book.” Community advocates, frustrated by the wholesale displacement of Bunker Hill residents, organized and presented an alternative plan, one that saved the single room occupancy hotels and committed resources to renovating and augmenting this housing and locating social services in the area. This plan, known as “The Blue Book,” was adopted by the city, in part as a strategy that would “contain” poor people in one corner of downtown. Significantly, it had the reverse effect of also preventing upscale development within Skid Row. As a result, the area’s primary stakeholders remain its low-income residents, and their interests are increasingly prioritized as the community works to create a vibrant, viable neighborhood. This show utilizes the interplay of historical documents and non-linear, digitally reconfigured content–activated by each visitor–to unfold its story, thereby creating a mechanism for each visitor to experience the exhibition uniquely.

SRHMABSBookThe exhibition consists of a minimal installation of physical objects: two books, one Blue one Silver, on a bare table. As visitors turn the pages of each, thematically linked photos, videos, audio and paper documents, pop up, projected on the gallery walls.

The show is curated by LAPD and designed by LAPD in collaboration with Robert M. Ochshorn. Ochshorn is a researcher at the Communications Design Group (San Francisco, USA), where he designs media interfaces for extending human perceptive and expressive capabilities. He holds a BA in Computer Science from Cornell University and worked as a Research Assistant in the Interrogative Design Group at MIT and Harvard. In 2012, he was a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL), where he developed the open-source InterLace software that was used in collaboration to create the web-based documentary Montage Interdit (presented at the Berlin Documentary Forum 2, June 2012, Berlin, Germany), and he has recently completed a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart, Germany). He has performed, lectured, and exhibited internationally.

Read Al Jazeera’s ‘Public Unrest Sends Urban Designers Back To Drawing Board.

About the Skid Row History Museum and Archive

The Skid Row History Museum and Archive is a pop-up exhibition /performing arts space curated by LAPD. It foregrounds the distinctive artistic and historical consciousness of Skid Row, a 40-year-old social experiment. The Skid Row History Museum and Archive functions as a means for exploring the mechanics of displacement in an age of immense income inequality, by mining a neighborhood’s activist history and amplifying effective community strategies. The space operates as an archive, exhibition, performance and meeting space. Exhibitions will focus on grassroots strategies that have preserved the neighborhood from successive threats of gentrification and displacement, to be studied for current adaptation and use.

The space is activated by performances, community meetings and films addressing gentrification and displacement locally, nationally and globally. The culture that developed here on Skid Row—an activist culture, artistic culture and recovery culture—offers a useful model for other communities navigating gentrification pressures. The museum space also serves as a literal and artistic common ground, a welcoming space for Angelenos to meet and mingle and explore civic issues together.

In a second museum space an extensive archive of Skid Row History (planning documents, articles, videos, audios, interview transcripts etc.), are available for casual and scholarly research. Visitors will be able to access this archive, comment upon it and use it to further explore the show’s themes.


LAPD’s Skid Row History Museum and Archive project is supported with funding from the California Arts Council’s Creative California Communities Program, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts.