essay : La Conchita Paradise

Christina McPhee

La Conchita mon amour (2005-2006) is a site study of the aftermath of a deadly debris that occurred in 2005 in the town of La Conchita, California, about one hundred miles north of Los Angeles. The project title bears homage to "Hiroshima mon amour", the film by Alain Resnais (1959) with screenplay by Marguerite Duras. A 1995 debris flow is thought to have released only ten percent of its potential mass, and that the 2005 flow is possibly a remobilization or sequelae to the 1995 flow. Residents live with a huge mass in the center of the village that has not been removed.They have covered the mudslide with shrines and improvised gardens and even tipi dwellings in defiance of the county 's order to keep out. For the past year at one month intervals, I shot medium format and digital photographs of the disasterís vernacular shrines to the dead on the site of the mudslideóchain link barriers a rubble of mud, destroyed house frames, roofs, retaining walls, play yards, swing sets and crushed cars. I record video and audio in these site visits at quiet times of the day, developing a time based record of the cyclical power of the tides, the freeway sounds, and the voices of residents who would sometimes guide me into precarious parts of the ruin. I drew debris flow predictive movement studies in graphite and ink.