In the late seventies, John Divola (born 1949, American) stumbled upon an abandoned property in Zuma Beach in Southern California while running on the beach. Over a little more than a year between 1977 and 1978, he observed, augmented, and photographed this building, and it is the subject of one of his earliest and most renowned projects entitled Zuma, 1979.
The structure was repeatedly burned and damaged in various ways by the fire department who utilized it for training exercises and practice drills. Divola himself also made additions of paint and graffiti, and these marks were augmented by others’ vandalism, decay from natural elements, and the passage of time. Through the windows and doorways, the sky and ocean are visible, as are the various interventions that are both natural and human.
In total, Zuma comprises approximately 120 color photographs (all of which are in the collection of The Getty Museum) that documents the transformation of this property. Approximately 60 of the Zuma photographs were reissued as pigment prints, of which 20 are in the collection of Palm Springs Art Museum.
Divola is from Southern California and is a professor at University of California, Riverside. Most of his imagery created over the past 40 years has focused on the region, including the urban and suburban built environment, as well as the desert, ocean, and mountain landscapes. Abandoned sites have been the backdrop of a number of his works, and in many cases, his work deploys performative, painted, and conceptual elements that are incorporated into the image in the making of the photograph.
Curated by Rochelle Steiner, Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs
John Divola, Zuma #14 (JDI 48) (from the Zuma portfolio), 1978/2012, Museo Silver Rag Paper with HP Vivera Pigmented Inks, 16 x 20 inches (sheet); 14 ¾ x 18 inches (image), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David C. Ruttenberg