In 1991, Latasha Harlins walked into Empire Liquor in Los Angeles to buy orange juice. When retail store proprietor Shortly Ja Du accused the 15-yr-previous of stealing the orange juice, a confrontation ensued that ended with Du killing Harlins.
“Even nevertheless she was attempting to shell out, they received in an altercation and Latasha Harlins was shot in the back of the head,” said visible artist Larissa Rogers.
Du was later convicted of manslaughter in the killing.
The incident contributed to the brewing racial tension in South Central Los Angeles at the time that arrived to a head with the beating of Rodney King and the 5 times of riots in 1992 that followed the acquittal of the four law enforcement officers included.
But for the duration of the summer time of 2020, Harlins and Du were on Rogers’ brain as she processed the cultural local weather as the Black Lives Matter motion obtained momentum.
It was during this time that Rogers filmed the double-channel movie featured in her exhibition, “We’ve Always Been Listed here, Like Hydrogen, Like Oxygen,” which opens Sept. 3 at Santa Ana’s Grand Central Art Centre and operates by Nov. 6.
The movies are projected on two substantial partitions that occur jointly in a corner. Rogers utilizes the place to immediate the viewer toward the idea of remaining trapped but also increasing out.
Rogers shot the movies on the Richmond Slave Trail and the African Burial Floor in Richmond, Va. and stated all through the early pandemic lockdown, she realized extra folks have been spending time outside, in these areas, without fully understanding them.
“There is about a 2-mile path up to where the auction block and auction homes were,” said Rogers, “but the two of these spaces experienced been turned into spaces of recreation so persons would be boating — there was not significantly signage of what it was.”
Rogers very carefully — and sometimes about — washes her overall body with oranges on 1 display screen and caresses an orange solid of orange juice on the other.
“I started utilizing oranges in my apply in reference to Latasha Harlins’ murder,” mentioned Rogers. “This orange commences to signify a multitude of issues.”
Rogers is Afro Asian, born in Charlottesville, Va. to a Korean immigrant mother and an African American father. She explores both identities and how she situates inside of the narrative of the Harlins killing.
“Latasha Harlins was a 15-year-old Black female Shortly Ja Du, a Korean immigrant,” said Rogers. “There are so numerous gaps and separations concerning becoming in a position to recognize each and every other and each other’s encounters. A ton of prejudices are taking place, from the murder to even what justice can seem like.”
For Rogers, the orange stands in for the erasure of Black and Brown gals, but it is also a hybrid food items by character, indigenous to Asia and introduced to the Americas by colonization.
“In the video, you see me at the Richmond Slave Path and the African Burial Floor, with serious oranges and oranges that I created solid of orange juice, washing my physique,” mentioned Rogers. “It is this act of self-treatment, but also as I am washing my physique, these oranges are melting. The washing at in some cases can feel a minimal aggressive, so pondering about the romantic relationship between care and violence.”
Portion of the text on the video is lifted from Rogers’ have individual journals and a letter she penned to Du that she never despatched but wrote as a way to grapple with the tensions among the Korean and Black communities.
“When I started out to do this work, I had to genuinely sit with myself,” stated Rogers.
It is also appropriate the display opens in Orange County the place the fruit retains its own symbolism.
“This is perfect due to the fact this is the initially time the work is demonstrating in California and what a great spot,” claimed Rogers.
In addition, a sculpture crafted from shipping pallets and 115 pounds of new oranges will accompany the online video function. Rogers said in Virginia there are lots of monuments, of Confederate adult men established in brass that haven’t advanced more than the several years, physically or symbolically. Rogers’ sculpture will be a person that is meant to adjust.
“This sculpture is a monument for a 15- calendar year-old Black woman,” reported Rogers.
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