The Sedimentary Effect is a project that will delve into different layers of the Baja California-Southern California region through a constellation of experiences, histories, and dialogues that can prompt new routes and possibilities to engage with this geographical context. The project, conceived to unfold between 2021 and 2024, features several components, including Artist Commissions, a series of Conversations, special issues of the INSITE Journal, and Collaborations/Exhibitions both in the region and beyond.
Devised through four main chapters, The Sedimentary Effect will trace microhistories and phenomena that reveal different social, cultural, and spiritual layers, ranging from the Santa Ana winds, to artisanal fishing in the Pacific Ocean, to Donald Judd’s travelling to Baja California and the development of modular houses by the architect Christopher Alexander in Mexicali, to Lomaland, the Theosophical society founded by Katherine Tingley in San Diego.
CHAPTERS (POINTS OF DEPARTURE):
Chapter 1: Erratic Fields
The first chapter, Erratic Fields, is based on stories about the transmutation of dust, wind, earth, soil, and territory from aesthetic, social, and anthropological views. From the effects of seasonal winds and histories of mining and droughts, work for this chapter will delve into the different ways in which geology and natural phenomena mark the memory of landscapes.
Chapter 2: Offshore, Economies within Ecologies
The second chapter, Offshore, Economies within Ecologies, focuses on the Pacific Ocean—described by artist Allan Sekula (INSITE 97) as “troubled waters”—where both underwater ecologies and economic industries converge. Microhistories considered in this chapter include Japanese artisanal fishing in Ensenada, B.C., as well as John Steinbeck and Ed Rickett’s journey to Baja California in the 1940s in search of invertebrates.
Chapter 3: The Timeless Way of Building
The third chapter, The Timeless Way of Building, is based on the homonymous book (1979) and social housing complex designed by the Viennese architect Christopher Alexander, in 1976, in Mexicali, B.C. (coincidentally, the former residence of one of the artists invited to develop a commission for The Sedimentary Effect), as well as Donald Judd's travels between 1968 and 1971 through Baja California in search of a place to build a house. Both projects speak to the notion of home as a place that goes beyond dwelling.
Chapter 4: Abstract Worlds, the Spiritual Realm
Chapter four, Abstract Worlds, the Spiritual Realm, is inspired by Lomaland, the Theosophical community founded in the late nineteenth century by Katherine Tingley, and delves into histories of spiritualism in the region, including pianist and writer Jesse Shepard’s Villa Montezuma, and Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, B.C.
The Sedentary Effect will take place around four organizing platforms:
Artists Commissions. For each of the four chapters, various projects will be commissioned with artists, musicians, architects, and choreographers from the region at different stages during 2022 and 2023. Manifestations of these commissions will include work in a range of media, including performance, concerts, dance, video, sculpture, and drawings. Public presentations of the commissioned projects will take place in different sites and institutions across the region.
Conversations. Conceived as a central component of The Sedimentary Effect, Conversations is an experimental and flexible platform that will adapt to each of the four chapters of the project. From multi-day peripatetic city excursions and lectures in several venues, to expeditions by land and sea, to symposia in site-specific unique settings, the impulse behind these dialogic encounters is to provide multilayered frameworks, where research, guided excursions, lectures, and roundtables, both public and private, are all critical to engage with this geographical context, and to prompt collaborations among practitioners from different fields.
INSITE Journals. The Sedimentary Effect will have four online and print publications devoted to each of the chapters, that will include new texts and related material commissioned with writers, curators, artists, and researchers, as well as selections from existing archives. The Journals will also serve as the primary source of documentation for the processes and outcomes associated with both the Artists Commissions and Conversations.
Collaborations/Exhibitions. With The Sedimentary Effect, multiple opportunities to work with and through partner institutions are emerging as each of the four chapters is developed, which include collaborations to develop public programs, concerts, performances, and exhibitions with focused nonprofits, museums, and cultural centers in the Baja California-San Diego County region and beyond.
All projects and public programs realized for The Sedimentary Effect will be documented and disseminated on INSITE’s comprehensive archive-based website.