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Art and Community Activism Collide in the Heart of Downtown for Trespass Parade

By Fareeha Molvi with Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, September 30, 2011, at 07:52AM
Trespass Parade Photographs by Tina Hosseinzadeh

T-shirt slogans will be in ready supply for Sunday's parade. American Apparel donated 1,600 shirts for the event.

Downtown has played host to plenty of parades and protests over the years, but it is unlikely that one event has ever tried to combine the two in quite the same way as the Trespass Parade, a celebration of art and community activism that will march over 25 blocks this Sunday. Those who attend—and those that just happen to be along the route—will see a trail of floats, music and dance performances.

"It's a hybrid between a parade and a protest," said Emi Fontana, the founder of West of Rome Public Art and one of the parade's organizers.

The parade is part of the opening festivities for the 6-month Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time, and aims to inspire local residents to participate in their artistic and social communities. The parade formation will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 2, at Art Platform - Los Angeles and from there will march up through the historic Broadway Theater District. The public may join in the procession at any of the six access points along the way.

Organizers are expecting thousands of participants, including everyone from artists to local high school students. Fontana said this is exactly the purpose to hosting a roving event. As the group travels through different areas of Downtown and districts of Broadway, they are literally and symbolically bringing together diverse cultural worlds.

The central concept of Trespass is to "reach out to people that would not be normally exposed to this kind of thing," Fontana explained, adding that she hopes that even people just passing by will be inspired to join.

The event is a collaboration between West of Rome, musician Arto Lindsay and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Lindsay and Tiravanija have led smaller versions of these raucous parades in multiple cities including Miami and Paris, but the one in L.A. will be the largest event yet.

Lindsay founded New York New Wave band DNA in the late 70s, and has a long history of experimenting with music including punk, noise and even scoring ballets. Tiravanija is a Thai artist known for combining performance art with teaching and public service, and is on the faculty at Columbia University in the School of Visual Arts.

The actual floats will be kept very simple, Fontana said, and are meant mostly as a means to transport sound equipment and performers. The two artists will perform at the event along with a group of eclectic others including Nancy Buchanan and My Barbarian.

The parade is only part of the Trespass celebration, which also includes a party at Union Station and a t-shirt project that will be on display in the parade. Sixty L.A. artists including John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Nancy Rubins and Jeffrey Vallance contributed personal statements to the t-shirts that express political or social concerns. Slogans include, "Give," "Talk is cheap free speech is priceless" and "The Supreme Court is a terrible thing to waste."

In the spirit of this community-building event, these t-shirts will also be on sale to benefit West of Rome, the Pasadena-based non-profit which helps L.A. artists put on exhibitions in unconventional spaces.

The parade will end at the Grand Avenue cultural corridor with a performance by punk-jazz orchestra Killsonic and a reception at the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and REDCAT.

Parade Route


View Trespass Parade Route in a larger map

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