Photo Essays

At Los Angeles Bus Stops, a Seat for Public Art

Bench 1
A bench in Los Angeles featuring the photography of Dulce Pinzón (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — The Do ArT Foundation of L.A. teamed up with Montreal’s Mouvement Art Public (Make Art Public) this summer to … do make art public. By recuperating unsold advertising space on bus benches around downtown L.A., the organizations brought the work of two photographers to the streets. Or, in the case of artist Jon Rafman, back to the streets. In his 9-Eyes series, Rafman finds and exhibits compelling images from Google Street View, while Mexican artist Dulce Pinzón’s Real Stories of Superheroes gives unsung heroes their due by turning them into caped crusaders.

Both photographers push the medium to explore the extraordinary in the otherwise unnoticed, and that is why their work is so fitting for this project. Can an artist capture the beauty of an elk running down a deserted highway without being present? Is the superhuman strength of a single mother only visible through the imagination of another? And if a non-commercial image is pasted onto a bus bench and no one notices, is it art or just a backrest?

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Bench 17
Jon Rafman
Bench 18
Jon Rafman
Bench 14
Dulce Pinzón
Bench 15
Dulce Pinzón
Bench 13
Jon Rafman
Bench 12
Jon Rafman
Bench 11
Jon Rafman
Bench 10
Jon Rafman
Bench 9
Jon Rafman
Bench 8
Jon Rafman
Bench 7
Jon Rafman
Bench 6
Jon Rafman
Bench 5
Jon Rafman
Bench 4
Dulce Pinzón
Bench 3
Dulce Pinzón

Dulce Pinzón and Jon Rafman’s photography has been on view in benches owned by Martin Outdoor Media throughout Boyle Heights and downtown Los Angeles since July 5.

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