March 29 - April 13, 2014
Opening reception Saturday March 29th @ 7:30pm

A group exhibition and event series organized by M.A. in Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere candidates Toro Castaño, Başak Cömert, Amanda Courtney, Clare Eberle, Corey Mansfield, Julia McCornack, Katherine Rosenheim, Sonia Seetharaman, Sasha Ussef, and Nicole Wallace with Visiting Professor Connie Butler.

Actual Size Gallery
741 New High Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Gallery hours: Mon-Fri, 2pm-8pm / Sat-Sun 12pm-8pm

Ecotone Lab
is an inquiry-driven research initiative exploring the cultural contact zone produced between Los Angeles and the surrounding desert communities including Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. The project presents the work of artists Katie Bachler, Rosa Barba, Diane Best, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), Bobby Furst, Mariah Garnett, Giovanni Jance, Stanya Kahn, Cheryl Montelle, Hillary Mushkin, Radio Free Joshua Tree, Steve Rowell, Kim Stringfellow and Julie Tolentino. Ecotone Lab will exist at Actual Size Gallery in Los Angeles for two weeks, with additional programming occurring at satellite locations in Joshua Tree. The body of research, from artists, curators and other collaborators, includes a reading room, a radio broadcast, lectures, film screenings, workshops, performances, installations and a storytelling session. An archival zine will be published at the end of the project along with digitally published documentary material, curatorial and artists’ texts.

In the eyes of Angelenos and other Southern California city-dwellers, the nearby desert terrain is often considered through an aesthetic lens, noting a stark geological grandeur. Artists and other cultural producers have historically been drawn to the desert’s remoteness of location relative to urban density. This duality, taken together with the identity of the region as a spiritual center, fuels a utopic myth-making for the region, locating it as a space of possibility, where the harsh realities of everyday urbanism give way to an alternate existence fueled by the natural landscape.

The mythical, rapturous images of the "desert milieu," as propagated by artists, historians and writers, tend to ignore the actual social conditions of the region. These conditions extend far beyond the romantic simplicity of the landscape; the Joshua Tree communities are also home to a burgeoning permaculture movement, a series of experimental art and music festivals, a grassroots anti-corporate campaign, and a vast military base and training facility. Ecotone Lab seeks to present these realities through an investigation of social and cultural production from within the region and outside of it, specifically in connection with Los Angeles. We posit this relationship not as an opposition but as an ecotone - a transitional zone where the two adjacent communities meet and integrate, or what cultural geographer Jacob Sowers calls “...a community based on the overlapping and competing identities held in a precarious tension.”

Rather than assuming a position of authority on the complicated problematic of artistic site-making in the desert, Ecotone Lab actively engages the social, political, and economic realities of curating within the public sphere.

For more information, please visit