School of Art visiting faculty Mercedes Dorame is among the cohort of five Los Angeles artists and technologists in LACMA x Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives, a collaboration between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Snap Inc.
LACMA and Snap Inc., which have collaborated on projects since 2018, launched this latest multiyear interactive initiative designed to “explore monuments and murals, representation, and history” through the use of augmented reality (AR) in an effort to elevate the histories of LA County’s numerous communities. Dorame joins the inaugural Monumental Perspectives artist cohort alongside I. R. Bach, Glenn Kaino, Ruben Ochoa, and Ada Pinkston, whose works highlight the power of art and technology in matters of advocacy and representation.
The five Monumental Perspective works can be experienced by anyone around the world through Snapchat’s Lenses, or in-person at site-specific LA locations, including LACMA’s Wilshire Boulevard campus, MacArthur Park, Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Each of the artists’ works will be available in time for April 18, which is the International Day for Monuments and Sites.
“”I’m excited to be a part of this project as AR Monuments is about imagination without constant,” Dorame was quoted on LACMA’s news site. “It is a way for me to resist the erasure of my culture and to create a world where the Tongva presence is visually highlighted within the landscape of Los Angeles.”
Dorame’s work is titled Portal for Tovaangar, referring to Tovaangar, also known as Los Angeles. About the work, per LACMA:
Working in landscapes she feels anchored to, Mercedes Dorame reclaims connection to the land and ancestral knowledge by exploring what it means to exist as a Native inhabitant of contemporary Tovaangar (Los Angeles). Portal for Tovaangar creates an immersive portal that links past, present, and potential future worlds. Viewers engage with what continues to inspire many Native people: the sky, the land, indigenous plant life, celestial bodies, and the infinite ability to connect to these entities and with each other. This work proposes a community healing opportunity, an exploration of truth in understanding Indigenous intrinsic knowledge, and reconciliation. Portal for Tovaangar shifts away from memorializing heroes and singular events to engage the continued and future presence of Native people in this city.
The song included in the piece is inspired by a 1918 wax cylinder recording of Tongva singing:
Kotiikawooken papaaxiiwo | Red-winged blackbird
Yakeenax nechoova yakenax | Dance with me
chawaayavet, chawaayavet | With outstretched wings
Portal for Tovaangar may be experienced either in-person at LACMA, or from anywhere by downloading Snapchat and scanning the code at lacma.org/dorame.
As part of Monumental Perspective’s related programming, Dorame and the other cohort artists join the Zoom discussion “Art & Conversation: Making Monumental Perspectives” on Sunday, April 18. The conversation will be moderated by Liz Andrews, executive administrator and project curator at LACMA, and introduced by Sophia Dominguez, head of AR Platform Partnerships at Snap.
Additionally, Mercedes Dorame: Tovaangar Story Portal Podcast takes place on Monday, June 28. The self-guided podcast and AR experience features Tongva culture bearers, archaeologists, and artists as they discuss the “immense depth of our individual and collective relationship to place.”
LACMA x Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives
Art & Conversation: Making Monumental Perspectives
Sunday, April 18, 3-4:30 pm PT
Mercedes Dorame: Tovaangar Story Portal Podcast
Monday, June 28, 10-11 am PT