Lauren Bon on site at Bending The River, 2023 (photo courtesy Metabolic Studio)
The Artist Working to Reclaim the LA River’s Water
Through adaptive reuse, environmental artist Lauren Bon is diverting water from the river and distributing it to the Los Angeles State Historic Park.Matt Stromberg September 12, 2023
LOS ANGELES — Since 1960, nearly all of the 51-mile Los Angeles River has flowed within a concretized channel. It begins in the San Fernando Valley at the intersection of Bell Creek and Arroyo Calabasas, then moves east through Studio City, curves around Griffith Park, and heads south past Glendale, Downtown LA, and the Gateway Cities of Vernon, Bell, and Maywood before emptying into the San Pedro Bay in Long Beach. Its stark, industrial shores have served as a backdrop for Hollywood films (Grease, Point Blank, Drive) and a fishing spot for intrepid urban hunters. What the river does not provide Angelenos is water, which its concrete shell ensures is channeled directly into the Pacific: 207 million gallons per day, according to the City of LA.
Through an ambitious project titled “Bending the River” (2012–ongoing), environmental artist Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio are working to reclaim at least a small portion of that water.
“This is the first adaptive re-use of LA River infrastructure,” Bon told Hyperallergic.
“This work acts as a case study. My hope is to set a precedent and path forward for creative and innovative thinking about how we can better use our infrastructure and re-evaluate our commons of soil, seed, water, and community process.”
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