Noritaka Minami: California City, California

Terminal 3

Sep 13, 2018 - Dec 13, 2018

Noritaka Minami: California City, California

In 1958, sociologist turned real estate developer Nathan K. Mendelsohn purchased 82,000 acres of land in the Mojave Desert with the intent of master-planning California's next great metropolis. Proposed in response to the housing boom generated after the end of World War II, California City was envisioned as a community that would be located away from the noise of nearby cities and was designed with all of the essentials to lead a comfortable, prosperous, and modern life. Mendelsohn and his company carefully planned the layout of 187 square miles, forming an area that today remains California’s third largest city in terms of land size.  

The economic growth necessary to achieve the envisioned metropolis never materialized, leaving an environment that, despite a gradual population increase, now stands largely as a sprawling network of unpaved roads, plots, and cul-de-sacs marking the arid landscape of the Mojave Desert. In his series, California City, California, Noritaka Minami draws focus on California City as it exists today. Employing an aerial perspective, Minami documents the vast scale and ambition of the project in a high-key aesthetic that reflects the dry environment below. Seen from above, the city’s seemingly endless system of roads takes on the appearance of blueprints or planning documents, recalling the potential of Mendelsohn’s original design and inciting visions of how this land may be developed in coming years.

Noritaka Minami is an artist and photographer based in Chicago, Illinois. He earned an MFA in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley. Minami has taught photography at Harvard University, Wellesley College, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, Boston, and University of California, Irvine. Minami has been the recipient of awards and grants from institutions including the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Durfee Foundation. His works have been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography, University of California, Los Angeles Department of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California, Merced Art Gallery, and have been included in group exhibitions at the Aperture Foundation in New York, Somerset House in London, and Photo Basel in Switzerland, among others. His photographs are held in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, University of California, Los Angeles Department of Architecture and Urban Design, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Minami’s first monograph, 1972 – Nakagin Capsule Tower, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2015.

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