Snapchat and LACMA celebrate diversity in LA

Snapchat and LACMA celebrate diversity in LA

For ‘Snapchat x LACMA: Monumental Perspectives’, five LA artists create an augmented reality monument in ode to the city’s history and culture

After a year of experiencing art (along with almost everything else) in the digital realm, the value of going virtual is being explored deeper through a new partnership between social platform Snapchat and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The multi-year initiative will bring together local artists and technologists from different communities in Los Angeles to highlight and share under-represented histories from the region with a wider audience. 

The partnership’s first chapter, ‘Snapchat x LACMA: Monumental Perspectives’, sees five local artists each create an augmented reality monument in ode to a different facet of the city’s diverse culture. Built using Snapchat’s technology and available to experience by anyone with the Snapchat camera, the monuments are situated at sites around Los Angeles, including LACMA, MacArthur Park, Earvin ‘Magic Johnson Park and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

 Monumental Perspectives iPhone
Monumental Perspectives triptych. Image courtesy of Snap Inc.

Ranging from Mercedes Dorame’s abstract portal that considers what it means to be a Native indigenous inhabitant of contemporary Tovaangar (Los Angeles) and I.R. Bach’s animations that inspire self-reflection while disrupting the idea of what a monument should be in the first place, to Glenn Kaino’s path of generational stories that connect together along the 1932 L.A. Olympic marathon route, these tributes give recognition to an array of lesser-known perspectives.

‘Historically speaking, communities of colour and marginalised communities are not normally included or considered in the creation of monuments,’ says Kaino, who is Japanese-American. No Finish Line is a sculpture of an exploded clock in which all the gears are taken from different symbolic elements of the neighbourhood.’

Ruben Ochoa, the artist behind ¡Vendedores, Presente!, which pays homage to the history of street vendors in Los Angeles, adds: ‘There’s an aspect to monuments that highlights a person, a place, or a group. I wanted to depict that through [my piece] and depict a community that’s often overlooked.’

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Mercedes Dorame, Portal for Tovaangar, 2021, in collaboration with LACMA × Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives. © Mercedes Dorame, image courtesy of Snap Inc.

Rounded off with Ada Pinkston’s memorial series that casts the spotlight on Biddy Mason, a woman who arrived in California enslaved in 1851 and ultimately died in 1891 as a free person, not to mention as one of the wealthiest Black women in the country, these virtual monuments couldn’t come at a better time.

‘These monuments are not only relevant to issues of today—Los Angeles, civic space, community— but also to the medium of art, opening doors to new ways of thinking about art in both physical and virtual spaces,’ says LACMA’s CEO and director, Michael Govan.

Snap Inc’s co-founder and CTO Bobby Murphy adds, ‘Through this collaboration with LACMA, Snap Inc.’s augmented reality technology has become an immersive medium for advocacy and representation. We’re thrilled to empower these artists and Lens Creators, and support their desire to share stories through a new perspective.’ §

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