Duck Duck Book

9 – in smog and thunder
01.26.2005, 12:02 am
Filed under: art & entertainment

Sandow Birk's "In smog and thunder : historical works from the Great War of the Californias" / Sandow Birk; Tyler Stalling.
Laguna Beach, Calif. : Laguna Art Museum, 2000.
also: San Francisco, Calif. : Last Gasp, 2002.
[MCL does not have this book, but its call number would begin with 759.13]

This is the catalog from an exhibit Birk did at the Laguna Art Museum. The exhibit showed a series of pieces, primarily paintings but also works in other media, that elaborate on his fantasy of a war between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I have not even been in the same room with this book, but I am nonetheless certain that it is fascinating and worthwhile.

I heard an interview with Birk on Studio 360 (a public radio program), in which he explained the genesis of the series. He said that when he, a lifelong resident of Southern California, went to San Francisco to do some work, he noticed how much Bay Area people were down on SoCal people. They talked about it all the time, putting down LA and the southern half of the state in general, and he just couldn't understand where the animosity came from. So he started thinking about what would happen if the tension between the two parts of his state came to the ultimate test, and there was a civil war between the the two great cities. And the rest is history.

Birk has also written a film documentary entitled In Smog and Thunder : The Great War of the Californias (available in video and DVD format). You can see images of Birk's other works, including several of his series of pastoral paintings of California prisons, at his website.


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