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Carlos Agredano: Smog Check

October 7, 2023 October 22, 2023

Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 – 6pm
Opening: Saturday, October 7, 7 – 9pm

Smog Check is an exhibition of new sculptures and research by Carlos Agredano about the air-quality around Chinatown, which sits adjacent to the Harbor (I-110) Freeway and is the location of Human Resources Los Angeles. 

This exhibition focuses on the legacy of two discriminatory housing practices – racially restrictive covenants and redlining.  These two interlocking private and federal practices aided in the development of Los Angeles’ public freeway system in the 20th century and systematically destroyed and polluted racially diverse communities such as Bunker Hill, Chavez Ravine, Boyle Heights, and Chinatown. 

Agredano’s sculptures actively document Los Angeles’ air pollution and respond to ongoing environmental racism in the city. For this exhibition, Agredano placed a canvas on the rooftop of HRLA for exactly one month to collect the ambient air pollution that exists in the neighborhood. He also engaged with the community of Chinatown by trading readymade objects such as window air conditioners and street vendor parasols, objects which collect polluted air particles on a daily basis. By rolling balls of clay around different streets in Chinatown, Agredano created single-layered stones coated in debris left behind by vehicles and humans alike. Flanking the entrance of the gallery are two Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes, DIY air purifiers that aid in cleaning indoor air. 

Other works reside outside the gallery space. Installed on the facade of HRLA is a nylon flag, part of the Federal EPA Air Quality Flag Program, which is designed to inform the public about the air quality in the local area. On the nearby I-110 freeway, a vinyl banner reads “Keep Los Angeles Beautiful” designed after a Los Angeles initiative to clean and “beautify” littered and polluted neighborhoods. On various telephone poles and freeway exit ramps are blank “music” posters, coated with an adhesive designed to collect debris and reveal a gradient of Los Angeles’ pollution.  

These process-based and ready-made sculptures all function as evidence of the environmental conditions that Chinatown is subject to on a daily basis due to its proximity to the Harbor I-110 Freeway.