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Carlos Garaicoa. Untitled (L.A.). 2004

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Carlos Garaicoa (Cuban, born 1967)

Untitled (L.A.)

Gelatin silver prints, thread and pins
Each 39 1/2 x 59 1/4" (100.3 x 150.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
MoMA Number:
© 2015 Carlos Garaicoa

The Musuem of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 256

Garaicoa works in a variety of mediums to probe the relationship between architecture and visual art and to explore themes of urbanism, politics, and history. His unusual photographic works chronicle dilapidated buildings and the creation of new structures in place of old. He begins by photographing buildings that have fallen into disrepair and decay or whose construction has been halted. On the finished photograph he inserts pins that allow him to trace in colored thread above the image the pattern of a real or imaginary structure.

Garaicoa has focused on the impact of Fidel Castro's regime on architecture in Cuba and especially in his native city of Havana, but he has also photographed changing cities across the globe, recording the erasure of their architectural pasts. The left panel of Untitled (L.A.) depicts the Lyon warehouse near downtown Los Angeles, which was demolished soon after the artist visited the city in 2004. On the right, Garaicoa’s thread drawing of the original structure hovers over a photograph of the empty site. This ghostly afterimage alludes to the past, questioning the rapid turnover of buildings in modern cities, and also hints at the future, imagining what could be.

Audio Program excerpt

New Photography '05: Carlos Garaicoa, Bertien van Manen, Phillip Pisciotta, Robin Rhode

, October 21, 2005–January 16, 2006

Curator, Eva Respini:

Carlos Garaicoa evokes the relentless passage of time in this haunting diptych. The work chronicles the destruction of a warehouse building in a pair of "before and after" images.

Garaicoa lives and works in Havana, Cuba, but he travels widely and makes pictures wherever he goes. The "before" image of this diptych shows the Lyon Storage building, a structure in downtown Los Angeles that caught his eye on a trip there.

Artist, Carlos Garaicoa: I'm not interested in places where people can recognize easily what it is. Sometimes, they are anonymous, a fragment of a place. I think that's very important to keep the freshness of the image.

Eva Respini: Shortly after his visit to LA, the building was torn down. The "after" picture does more than just document its disappearance. The artist has recreated what he calls "the phantom" of the vanished structure, using black and white thread held in place by pins driven through the surface of the photograph.

After scanning the original picture, he determines the precise placement of the thread and pins with a computer-drawing program called AutoCad, normally used by architects. So the ghostly image looks like an architectural drawing superimposed on the photograph.

The resulting diptych functions as a kind of memorial. Garaicoa suggests that everything is precious and everything passes. What's left, perhaps, is the persistence of memory.

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