Los Angeles

John Divola

Patricia Faure Gallery

Early in his career, John Divola gained public recognition with a series of photographs titled “Zuma,” 1978–79, a set of interior views of an old beachfront property with a single, central window opening onto the Pacific, like a picture within a picture. In a highly picturesque manner, Divola recorded the house’s gradual destruction at the hands of local vandals, occasionally joining his own mark to theirs, thereby bringing into question the documentary status of the undertaking. Throughout it all, the ocean remains gloriously indifferent. In this project, all the components of his practice were already in place: the mise-en-abîme structure, the tendency to skirt the borders of fiction and the real, and the simultaneously ironic and earnest suggestion of something beyond what is, and what can be, known.

If there’s something covertly cinematic about this early project—its black-box configuration,

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