Burning Off Water - Nicole Antebi



Nicole Antebi

Courtesy Nicole Antebi

Nicole Antebi, who lives in Los Angeles and teaches in Monterey, uses a variety of media for projects that often take the form of multifaceted installations. Issues surrounding land and water reclamation in California unite her recent work. Her efforts to reveal and critique this narrative often lead her to desert sites.

A few years ago, Antebi’s research led her to the Salton Sea, which has come to symbolize utopian aspirations and dismal failures of water reclamation. The official story on the California State Parks website says the sea was created in 1905, “when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed the canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley.” However, University of Redlands has reported that the accident was, in fact, “an attempt by the California Development Company to dig a new diversion canal after repeated complaints from the farmers of insufficient water in their sediment-clogged irrigation ditches.”

The Salton Sea had a heyday beginning in the 1920s, when developers touted it as the new Palm Springs. Resort communities sprang up around the sea and, for a while, celebrity sightings were common. In the 1950s, the sea’s unnatural features — such as its lack of an outflow and the agricultural runoff that it receives — began to accelerate its environmental decline. Communities were flooded, and the saline level of the sea was so high that nothing except for tilapia could live in it — and even those fish turned up in mass die-offs. The area surrounding the Salton Sea is now dilapidated and largely abandoned, notable more for its decay than any sustainable life.

Antebi’s humorous 2007 video work Tilapia Jetty draws correlations between the sea and Robert Smithson’s land-art monument, Spiral Jetty. In Antebi’s piece, the camera pans in circles through depressed residential areas around the sea, conjuring a repetitive vision of decay that evokes Smithson’s belief in entropy as the dominant force in human civilization. It concludes with footage of a small jetty Antebi constructed with white cardboard and dead tilapia. As it washes about on the shore, Antebi pours in more tilapia. Smithson envisioned his own jetty as a monument to slow and gradual disintegration. In Antebi’s version, this disintegration is miniaturized and accelerated.

Edit Module
Art + Culture
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Happy 2015!

Ring in the new year at a party that suits your style. 3, 2, 1 ... Cheers!

Lisa Vanderpump Will Preside Over Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

A place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and now Reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump will be the Celebrity Grand Marshal of the 23rd annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade on Dec. 6.

"The Imitation Game" Garners Ensemble Award from Palm Springs Film Fest

"The Imitation Game" will receive the Ensemble Performance Award at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan. 3.

Tom Dreesen Performs Act to Benefit Barbara Sinatra's Children's Center

Tom Dreesen recalls Frank Sinatra didn't go to bed until sun up, so they would leave Sinatra's Rancho Mirage compound in the middle of the night and drive around the Coachella Valley talking politics, sports, and Sinatra's childhood.

Neil Sedaka Covers 50-Plus Years of Hits in McCallum Show

Neil Sedaka has been performing for more than 50 years, and the legendary singer reveals he is working on a "very serious musical" about his life, struggles, and comeback featuring all of his songs.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Edit ModuleShow Tags