La Conchita suffers ‘always-already’ disaster. As a micro-instance of much larger scenarios in exposed coastal cities like New Orleans, La Conchita still points to hazards of building common to southern California coastal communities in much wealthier places like Malibu, Palos Verdes, and Laguna Beach. The difference is that La Conchita, like the Ninth Ward, is mostly poor. It has few resources for salvaging its residences, its built environment, its dignity.

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Moving from ocean shore to the base of the coastal rincon, spontaneous memorials and gardens spring up and fall away on top of the flow that buried houses, gardens, toys dogs, adults, children. Rising marine temperatures increase the chance of severe winter storms, and with them, the threat of more debris flow along the entire southern Caifornia coastline. Yet government can or will do little; lawsuits paralyze cleanup. The residents choose to live off grid, in a fantasy of forgetting. At La Conchita, the mudslide is the site of new public space: residents reclaim control of their communal identity within the debris left from a media-blitzed, then forgotten, catastrophe. At the same time they don’t want to remember how dangerous it is, or that, if they just figure they’ll die in the next slide, they don’t have to worry about it anymore. La Conchita as California dreaming. The vernacular memorial is a patched-together Potemkin village: La Conchita refuses to die, because the memorials will magically compensate for the lack of rescue from the state. The cyclical sound-space at La Conchita leaves room, at random intervals, for blasts of memory, in the form of shouts and calls from the day of the disaster. You can only get close to trauma; there’s a piece of lost time here, unreachable, invisible, indivisible. I try to get close, too close. Complicitly reinforcing the strange condition of forgetfulness. My video sequences want N space, a place of continuous sublation, right alongside the slide. Building the shrines is like stopping time. Building the video is the same. To stop time is to enter heaven. To enter heaven is to forget. In the cyclical rounds you touch on only the scrappy edges of suffering. You may still be in paradise.