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Mark Bradford's post-Katrina ark for New Orleans

September 24, 2008 |  6:00 am

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If you've driven down Leimert Boulevard lately, you might have wondered about that big boxy thing being built in the parking lot next to the L.A. Third Church of Religious Science. Wonder no more: It's an ark.

Yes, an ark --  like the one Noah built in order to save his family and all the animals after God told him He had made an irreparable mistake and was going to launch Earth 2.0. Actually, it's a sculpture by Mark Bradford, destined for "Prospect.1 New Orleans," billed as the largest biennial exhibition of international contemporary art ever in the United States. The nicknamed "[P.1]" opens in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city on Nov. 1.

Twenty-two feet high and 64 feet long, the imposing ark is constructed from plywood barricade fencing salvaged from local construction sites, already adorned with weathered and tattered posters advertising assorted movies, rock concerts, TV stations and such. Working with architect Eve Steele and a construction crew headed by Sam Clay, Bradford built the form around two massive shipping containers, one stacked on top of the other. The whole thing weighs in at 93,000 pounds, and the job took a six-man team five weeks to build.

The modular pieces are being dismantled over the next several days. Cleverly, the numbered pieces will be stacked inside the big metal containers for shipping to New Orleans. Once there, the ark will be reassembled in the Ninth Ward for the two-and-a-half-month show.

If only FEMA had been this prepared.

Last April, on the roof of a Wilshire Boulevard gallery across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bradford made another Katrina-themed work -- an enormous SOS sign visible only from the air, which pleaded "Help us" (my review is here).  More photos after the jump.

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--Christopher Knight

Ark photos: Lisa Lyons

"Help Us" photo: Steve Hart, Steve Turner Contemporary

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