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Artist-architects Make Access Points


“Viewing platforms” installed by anonymous artists were intended to provoke thought about the proliferation of gated communities. The group's website is at http://heavytrash.blogspot.com

With a blend of guerilla theater and Christo-like public display, a group calling itself Heavy Trash installed "viewing platforms" outside three Los Angeles gated communities in late April .

The artists erected gaudy, orange-painted towers next to the fences of private neighborhoods in Brentwood, the Fairfax district and Los Feliz to protest what they say is a proliferation of private, gate-guarded residential enclaves.

In Los Feliz, Laughlin Park resident Ilana Martin initially thought the platform outside her gates was something left behind by a tree-trimming crew or oversized trash left at the curb by one of her neighbors. When told what it actually was, she remained puzzled.

"I'm all for liberal ideas and liberal causes," she said. "But I think there are better causes."

Members of Heavy Trash, a group that describes itself as an "anonymous arts organization of architects, designers and urban planners," said they placed the towers to "provide visual access to parts of the city that have been cut off from the public domain." They said the wood-framed observation posts were meant to be reminiscent of makeshift structures used by Westerners to peer over the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.

The structures are not the group's first social protest. In 2000, a series of official-looking "Future Subway Station Site" signs outlining the fictional route of the "Aqua Line" between Los Angeles and Santa Monica drew attention to inadequate public transit through wealthy areas.

In 1997, the group installed a one-ton stairway into fenced-off Triangle Park at Santa Monica Boulevard and Bundy Drive to ridicule the park's lack of public access.

Members of Heavy Trash, who reproduced detailed platform construction plans on their website, said in their statement that gated communities are the fastest-growing form of housing in the United States.

At the minimum, they said, all gated neighborhoods should be open to pedestrians, something that would work "to make neighborhoods safer.”

Visit the Heavy Trash website at http://heavytrash.blogspot.com

--Los Angeles Times



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