Art lovers, film buffs, and anyone looking for a fantastical escape will enjoy Experience 51: TIME at ESMoA in El Segundo.
By Maureen Kingsley
Photos by Mark Knight
"If you’re going to time travel, you can go anywhere. But where will you go? Where will you start?”
These were some of many rhetorical questions posed by Academy Award-winning Hollywood production designer Rick Carter at a special preview of ESMoA’s eye-popping new installation, Experience 51: TIME, this past April. Rick’s imaginative and memorable production- design work, on which ESMoA’s Experience 51: TIME is based, is universally recognizable, spanning numerous blockbuster films from the past few decades. These films all examine the concept of time, explains ESMoA’s Natalie Strong, and include Jurassic Park, Back to the Future II and III, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, The Polar Express, Avatar, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Amistad, and Lincoln. Works of art from and inspired by these films and the concept of time fill ESMoA’s gallery from floor to ceiling now through September 21 of this year.
This latest ESMoA experience is one that anyone with an interest in movies, popular entertainment, fantastical story-telling, and imaginative flights of fancy will not want to miss, as it features renderings of characters and settings from iconic films as well as set pieces, props, and more, all presented in a fully immersive collage-style display.
The 169 artworks presented in ESMoA’s gallery (and three in El Segundo Public Library) include paintings, drawings, and collages by Rick Carter himself, as well as original artworks inspired by Rick’s film projects created by eight talented Los Angeles-area artists who work in a variety of media: Alex Garcia, Luke Hayes, Muraji Khalil, Dalila Paola Méndez, Helena Park, Jacori “Aiseborn” Perry, Ivan “Mr. Mustart” Petrovsky, and Carlos “Kopyeson” Talavera. Together, the creations of Rick Carter and these eight individuals make up an unforgettably rich, varied, and emotive collection, expertly curated by ESMoA regular Bernhard Zuenkeler. “This experience is what the crossover between El Segundo and Hollywood looks like,” Bernard said to the crowd assembled at April’s preview event. “Any direction you take, you will find a new perspective.”
Rick Carter described the experience as “a collective trip,” and he encouraged visitors “not to try to understand it, but to let it wash over you. There’s a trip to be had every time you’re in here.”
Participating artist Aiseborn noted the recurring appearance of gears and other clock mechanisms used as symbols throughout the installation, explaining to visitors that such hardware is “a mechanical way to move things along and help things go,” thereby symbolizing the concept of time. He also pointed to what he called a “balance” between one side of the gallery that contains more natural and “earthy” artworks and the other side, which features “more mechanical and techy” images.
Rick invited those taking in the experience to also note the many artistic renderings of feathers, wings, and breath around the gallery, and he encouraged guests to interpret these symbols in their own personal way. “There’s no absolute truth,” he said. “There’s just whatever you find here.”
Even the gallery floor contains artwork for this show. Artist Muraji Khalil created the cardboard-and-silver-tape piece, called “EsmoLabah,” which she said is “the web of the exhibit,” connecting each space in the gallery to another. (Labah is Hebrew for “spiderweb,” she explained.) The geometric patterns and the symbols in the piece were inspired by Mayan patterning and symbols. “They were made, in part, for kids to follow like a tightrope, to play and dance on,” Muraji said.
In some concluding remarks made at the preview event, Aiseborn said, “One of the sweetest things about this group of artists coming together is that a piece of each of our minds works like Rick Carter’s. We all click and work well together. We had to figure out our materials, then make an effort to see how far we could stretch the material and our creativity. You see the order and beauty from our chaos.”
While the time travel of which Rick Carter spoke may not be possible just yet, a trip to ESMoA to experience TIME is easy, free, and fun! Stop by during open hours: Thursday noon to 5pm, Friday 10am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 5pm at 208 Main St. in El Segundo.
See The El Segundo Scene’s Local Event Guide for programming around this exhibit.
This story appears in the June 2022 issue of The El Segundo Scene. All photos by Mark Knight.