The air in Human Resources was fragrant, full of fresh citrus. Shimmering ceramic bowls of tangerines, lemons, and grapefruits lay scattered about the gallery, adding splashes of bright color to the cool and dimly lit space.
Michael Parker’s interactive Juiceworks installation ended today at Human Resources Los Angeles. Over the past several months, Parker created dozens of ceramic juicers, bowls, plates, and cups, and arranged them on halved-log tables in HR’s white cubic space. The instruments themselves look like the briny vertebrae of mysterious sea creatures, fragments of barnacle-coated abalone shells shining opalescent under the soft glow of ethereal lamplight.
When I visited, several small groups had gathered around tables, sitting on low stools of wood and soft coiled rope, chatting as they juiced their citrus. I picked up a delicate ceramic bowl, its pale blue rim mottled fuscia like a head of cabbage, and washed it in a nearby sink. Even the basins full of running water were made of porcelain.
As I sipped from my cup of fresh-squeezed juice, I looked around the room and noticed that citrus fruit had brought us all together. A symbol of Southern California utopianism, citrus has–since the early days when Orange County meant oranges–been commodified, transformed into a major agribusiness. Cold steel machines in distant factories do our juicing, further alienating our labor as Marx once predicted. But sitting there with a handmade porcelain tool and cup in hand, I felt connected to the fruit and their tart, refreshing taste. This was a juicery of dreams.