News of the demolition of the east campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which took place over several months beginning last year, had often overshadowed the sprawling Peter Zumthor-designed building that will occupy the site when completed in 2024. Local critics and residents alike argued that the four buildings—the three buildings that made up the original campus, designed by William Pereira in 1965, and the street-facing Art of the Americas building designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer two decades later—could have been renovated for the same cost as the new development (if not less) and that their collective opportunity to connect visitors to the city’s cultural past through its civic architecture had been cut unnecessarily short.
Yet elements of the buildings will continue to play a role in the city, thanks to the creative efforts of Cayetano Ferrer, a local artist with a vested interest in repurposing architectural fragments. In collaboration with landscape architect Bron Ruf, the vice president of the Glendale-based landscape design company Lawrence R Moss & Associates Inc, Ferrer will transport large-scale pieces from the LACMA campus in the Miracle Mile district to a pocket park near the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, currently under construction. On July 31st, Ferrer offered the public an early glimpse of the plan with a one-day exhibition of the pieces at a storefront in Pasadena, where the pieces appear to have been surgically removed from the 57-year-old structures. A rendering from the artist’s Instagram depicts the installation, titled ‘Extraction,’ as a number of these same elements assembled across the park as outdoor benches beneath shady trees, suggesting that their reuse will offer well-needed respite to a dense neighborhood.
With Extraction, his first public art installation, Ferrer sought to interrogate the very concept of ‘extraction’ as it ties the many time periods associated with the work, from the extraction of the structural elements of the museum buildings to the extraction of artifacts from sites around the world that necessitated LACMA perform as an encyclopedic museum. “The infrastructure of the encyclopedic museum is built on the grand tour of the 1800s and literally extracting,” Ferrer told the Los Angeles Times in an interview. “That process is how these institutions were developed as a cultural form. As an artist, I’m reversing that process onto the architecture.” Ferrer first interacted with LACMA as a participant in the museum’s Art + Technology Lab in 2015, for which he created Object Prosthetics, a series of case studies “based on the exhibition of incomplete objects, using new technologies to create reconstructions and incorporating them into his artistic practice.”
Ferrer’s installation, however, isn’t the first attempt to carry on the legacy of the museum’s original campus through artistic intervention in recent history. Prior to its demolition, the New York-based artist Vera Lutter photographed the buildings using a room-sized camera obscura and presented the results earlier this year in an exhibition at the same institution, titled Museum in the Camera.
A timeline for Extraction, as well as for the completion of the pocket park in which it will be installed, has not yet been announced.