Mercedes Dorame

Mercedes Dorame: Woshaa’axre Yaang’aro (Looking Back)

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May 9 2023, Published 3:55 p.m. ET

New commission is inaugural project of new contemporary series

For the inaugural installation of its new Rotunda Commission series, Getty has invited Los Angeles-based artist Mercedes Dorame to create a special installation in the Museum’s Entrance Hall at the Getty Center.

On view June 20, 2023, through August 11, 2024, Mercedes Dorame: Woshaa’axre Yaang’aro (Looking Back), explores how we position ourselves in our relation to the land we inhabit, asking viewers to adjust their perspective and imagine a point of view that prioritizes the original caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles Basin and Southern Channel Islands).“We are delighted to launch a series of installations at the Getty Center that will highlight new work by contemporary artists,” says Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “For this first commission, we felt it important to showcase the work of a Los Angeles-based artist and invited Mercedes Dorame who was featured in our 2021 Photo Flux exhibition to present the inaugural installation.”“While visiting the Getty, I have often heard the phrase, “on a clear day you can see Catalina Island,” explains artist Mercedes Dorame. “These experiences highlight my awareness of the Museum’s unique position as the only art institution I can think of to have this visual relationship to an island I have an ancestral connection to as a Tongva person. Through this project, I am interested in reversing the view of looking out towards Pimugna (Catalina Island) and presenting a return gaze through the vantage point of an island, a Tongva person, and the abalone to insist on engaging the First peoples of this place, our cultural memory, and the ecologies of our tribal territories.”

Dorame’s installation will consist of five large sculptures in the shape of abalone shells hanging from the ceiling of the Museum’s Entrance Hall, together with painted views of the horizon and coastline of southern California. Colored filters over the upper windows will affect the light pattern and spectrum of the sunlight filling the space. By positioning visitors below the shells and within a field of light, Dorame seeks to affect the viewer’s perspective and position, submerging them in the visions of an abalone, a mollusk that has long held an important role in the culture, survival, and persistence of the Tongva and other coastal California Native people.

The Rotunda Commission is a new series of installations specifically created for the Getty Museum’s Entrance Hall. The works are inspired by the Museum’s collection, architecture, and the Getty Center site. Each commission will be on view for a period of about one year.

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