Devon Tsuno's handmade artist book titled, Watershed was printed with risograph and letterpress techniques on Japanese Asuka Washi and Indian Khadi rag papers and hand stitched. The edition of 50 books was published by Occidental College Press and Concrete Walls Press in conjunction with a solo exhibition at the Weingart Gallery at Occidental College.
This project was in collaboration with Jocelyn Pedersen & Occidental book arts students.
A selection of the books are on permanent view in Occidental College Library's special collections.
Project curated by Aandrea Stang
Foreward by Jon Leaver, Ph.D
2013 was the driest year since Los Angeles started keeping records in 1877. 2014 has begun the same way. To my sensibilities, formed as they were in the soggy British Isles, these months of drought emphasize the seemingly precarious nature of life in L.A., and lend it an apocalyptic edge. It feels sometimes as though the whole place might wither and die, returning to the desert from which it so suddenly and spectacularly arose.
Such anxieties about L.A. are by no means new and are especially unsettling to newcomers. “Scratch the surface a little and the desert shows through,” Bertolt Brecht famously wrote in 1941 (he’d been in Los Angeles only a month). And yet, as Brecht also knew, L.A. is a beautifully irrigated desert, so a different reality is all around us: turn on the tap and water comes out; daily, sprinklers water lawns across the city; waterfalls trickle in secluded canyons; ducks swim on the river as it slips through Downtown on its concrete course. We have water.
Native Angelenos may have an easier relationship to the city’s water. For those who care to look—Devon Tsuno among them—it’s all around us. Groundwater from indigenous aquifers provides a tenth of the city’s total supply, a pretty impressive proportion considering the staggering size of the city itself, and its inhabitants’ voracious consumption habits. Over the last century vast acreages of land have been built up or paved, making it impervious to rainwater, but the city is still striated with creeks, streams, washes and arroyos, dry or running depending on the season. Seen from Tsuno’s perspective, then, Los Angeles consists of a series of watersheds across which rainwater washes (when it eventually falls), collects, seeps down, gradually percolating through the ground to reappear in pools, lakes and rivers. Coagulated during the dry months, after rain these bodies of water become miraculously limpid. A fascinating picture of L.A. can be glimpsed by looking into these bodies of water. Many artists have done so, graffiti artists, muralists, conceptualists, but all seem to find in the city’s water courses places both magically apart from L.A. but integral to it.
- Jon Leaver