Between 1973 and 1975, the American photographer John Divola – then in his midtwenties and without a studio of his own – travelled across Los Angeles in search ofdilapidated properties in which to make photographs. Armed with a camera, spray paint, string and cardboard, the artist would produce one of his most significantphotographic projects entitled Vandalism. In this visceral, black and white series ofimages Divola vandalised vacant homes with abstract constellations of graffiti-likemarks, ritualistic configurations of string hooked to pins, and torn arrangements ofcard, before cataloguing the results. The project vigorously merged the documentary approach with staged interventions echoing performance, sculpture and installationart. Serving as a conceptual sabotaging of the delineations between suchdocumentary and artistic practices, at a time when the ‘truthfulness’ of photography was being called into question, Vandalism helped to establish Divola’s highly distinctive photographic language.
John Divola (American, b. 1949), one of the most distiguished visual artists of his generation, earned a BA from California State University, Northridge (1971) and anMA from University of California, Los Angeles (1973). His images challenge theboundaries between fiction and reality, as well as the limitations of art to describelife. Vandalism (1974-1975) is one of Divola’s earliest series, predating Zuma (1979), As Far as I Could Get (1997) and Dogs Chasing My Car inthe Desert (2004). His work is exhibited internationally and found in important public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Getty Museum in LA, the V&A in London or the Whitney Museum in New York.
Vandalism, the book accompanying the exhibition, was published by MACK Books, London in 2018.
Editor’s note: The exhibition is featured on the cover of the PiB Guide Nº26 SEP/OCT 2019, PiB’s bi-monthly print issue.