Julia Sherman: You make a lot of work about Los Angeles, what is it about this city that compels you?
Zoe Crosher: Oh my. I am obsessed with the imaginary of the city, with the tension between the fantasy of something and what it actually is – and Los Angeles is a perfect confluence of that particular problem. It is a city that exists more in how it is talked about, what is said about it, how it is dreamed and imagined then what actually is – I could go on and on… go here and here for more on that.
JS: Tell me the story of this mortar and pestle we used.
ZC: A lost part of my familial history is about a land grant my paternal great-great grandfather had been given as payment for fighting in the Civil Way. My very sassy Great Great Grandmother took the land grant and their kids, left him somewhere in Northern Southern Michigan, and homesteaded across the country. She ended up in Pear Blossom, CA, a small dusty town in the Mojave Desert. I don’t know much about her, except that she was tough as nails. Her son, my Great Grandfather, was a pharmacist somewhere on Colorado Blvd in the old downtown Pasadena. He died of liver failure brought on by some sort of addiction that was never really talked about. This is the mortar and pestle he used to grind up drugs. It is one of the few things from that side of my family that was passed down to me.
Julia: How did you acquire that beautiful photo of lemons in your kitchen?
Zoe: David Allen Burns, along with Austin Young, are part of Fallen Fruit. They do wonderful public projects that involve, well, fruit. This past spring they were putting together this thing called The Fallen Fruitique down in the Westwood shopping district, and I was asked to participate. It was a wonderfully overflowing chaotic installation of pieces, high and low, that had fruit in them. This particular poster is a piece of theirs, wallpaper that they made and then painted. I was thrilled to have sold my little piece in the show, the profit of which I then bartered back with them for their piece. I love bartering – I think it is a wonderful thing and I barter for every possible thing I can, especially art.
JS: In your Manifest Destiny Billboard project, you are both a curator and an exhibiting artist. Can you tell me about the billboards you will be making for the series?
ZC: My series of billboards will unfold over time and start at the NM/AZ border heading west until the moment on the 10 freeway in CA. Against this initially incredibly desolate and brown landscape will unfold a series of billboards of a super lush green foliage/garden/shangri-la set-up. And as you get closer and closer to CA, the garden fantasy image starts withering and dying. So each mile closer to Los Angeles, the edge of the promise, the more the green, lush image on the billboard will wither. By the time you are in the green suburban world, the whole scene is brown.
JS: But it is not just billboards, there is also a perfume component to the project?
ZC: We made a limited edition scent, specific to each location where an artist would exhibit a billboard. The scent for Jacksonville, FL is orange blossom, New Orleans smells of wet clay and Houston smells of buttery leather, a dry musk & fresh gushing oil. You can purchase that on the LAND website.
Julia: Your husband is Croatian and does most the cooking the house. But I see you are trying to learn the language, judging by the sticky notes with Croatian vocabulary all over the kitchen. What is the Croatian word for salad?