• The Fragmentations Only Mean ...
    Sara R. Harris & Jesse Lerner

Noah Purifoy’s Homage to Frank Gehry, 2000, Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture, Joshua Tree, CA. Photo: Sara R. Harris.

In the late 1980s, the artist Noah Purifoy retired from his position of many years on the California Arts Council and moved from Sacramento to a remote desert site just north of Joshua Tree National Park. There, over the last fifteen years of his life, he created a complex series of assemblage sculptures and precarious architectural constructions that sprawl over ten acres of the high desert land, administered by the Noah Purifoy Foundation. With the support of the Noah Purifoy Foundation, this remarkable site is at the center of this documentary project. Through the voices of people who knew the artist; Purifoy’s writings; archival audio, music, and images; and especially the artworks themselves, lit by the intense sun of the Mojave desert, this film explores not only the sculptor’s legacy, but also diverse issues involving North American history, racial politics, philosophy, and art’s potential as an instrument of social criticism and community building.

Sara R. Harris is an audio artist and radio journalist with twenty years of experience in Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Netherlands. Her most recent radio endeavors include podcasting with incarcerated youth in Los Angeles County detention, a documentary about Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights, and hosting/producing Hear in the City: radio realities from the urban landscape (KPFK 90.7FM in Los Angeles). She brings a strong commitment to issues of urban land use, education, and social and environmental equality to the conversation. Her radio stories have been featured on Marketplace, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Studio 360, The Next Big Thing, Living on Earth, The World, and Mexico’s IMER national network. Cofounder of the urban sound-mapping project RadioSonideros, she launched the Los Angeles Bureau of Youth Radio in 2003 and founded the AudioPostales cross-border youth radio project. Her sound installations have been featured at the Vincent Price Museum, el Museo de las Culturas Populares in Mexico City, and Gallery 727 in Los Angeles.

Jesse Lerner is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His short films “Natives” (1991), “T.S.H.” (2004), and “Magnavoz” (2006); and feature-length experimental documentaries Frontierland/Fronterilandia (1995), Ruins (1999), The American Egypt (2001), Atomic Sublime (2010), and The Absent Stone (2013) have won numerous prizes at film festivals in the United States, Latin America, and Japan, and have screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Mexico’s Museo Nacional de Antropología, Washington’s National Gallery, Madrid’s Reina Sofíá, and the Sundance, Rotterdam and Los Angeles Film Festivals. His films were featured in mid-career surveys at New York’s Anthology Film Archives and Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional. He has curated projects for the Mexico’s Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Robert Flaherty Seminar. His books include F is for Phony (2000), The Shock of Modernity (2007), The Maya of Modernism: Art, Architecture, and Film (2011), and The Catherwood Project (2017).