Event box

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
3:30pm - 4:30pm
Charles E. Young Research Library, Main Conference Room 11360
UCLA Library Special Collections

Pale Coast: A Cenotaph is Boz Deseo Garden’s first film, which premiered on August 26, 2022 at Jargon Projects in Chicago. The film’s (anti)narrative drifts through three fictional interview transcripts between Patricia Decker, a former employee of SERRF, and Fran Russell, a reporter for Long Beach Press-Telegram. Framed as performances of irreparably damaged recordings from public archives, the “original” transcript is “re-performed” by actress Zurah Lynn Taylor (as Patricia) and Garden (as Fran). The film takes as its primary speculative grounds SERRF, a Long Beach waste-to-energy incineration facility, and the Khian Sea, a cargo ship contracted to transport and dump Philadelphia’s toxic waste ash in Haiti in 1987. Mythology is interwoven with archival record to interrogate the efficacy of proof, the ethics of archival stewardship and a racialized attachment to a distinction between history and fabulation.

This film was directly inspired by the material Garden pulled from the Arthur B. Friedman collection and the Research Materials on Air Pollution in Los Angeles, both available through UCLA Library Special Collections. The former collection consisted of recorded and transcribed interviews and hearings at San Quentin State Prison in the late 1960’s and the latter, an assortment of printed matter on films, organizations and data exposing the harmful effects of the pollutants that hang in the Los Angeles skyline.

The film’s primary questions become: what can be recovered or proven if one’s archival research occurs within the heap of ash? Within a substance whose origin has been lost or which was never there to begin with? Or within an ontology that cannot be distinguished from its captivity to an imposed absence.

Event Organizer

Katy Nicholas