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LAist Interview: Florencia Pita

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Florencia Pita is one busy lady. A current faculty member at the Sci-arc (Southern Institute of Architecture), she is also a gifted designer and architect in her own right.

Her Alice exhibit at LAXART (which just ended on August 30th) was a creative 7x20 foot installation inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Working with cast urethane, & covered in orange vinyl the exhibit explored bringing life to the found images in the early editions of Carroll’s famous fantasy world. The Victorian-esque ornamental pattern (complete with spades—reminiscent of the Disney version), was created by experiments with digital technology, and utilized a bright vivid color and floral curvature to capture the whimsy & curio of wonderland. The happy color and beautiful lines of the piece make you want to reach out & touch, and re-read the classic book, that has touched so many artists over the years.

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Born in Argentina, Pita moved to Los Angeles in 2001, after completing her masters’ degree in NY. She has been a licensed architect since 1998, has won many awards in design and had her work shown all over the world. In 2002, she participated as a member of United Architects in the World Trade Center Site Design Competition. Most recently she designed an exhibit about the French contribution to Los Angeles, now on view at the historical Pico House.

After seeing (and touching!) the Alice exhibit for myself, I had a chance to interview Ms. Pita in-between her many travels, and ask her a few questions about her exhibit and life in L.A.

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LAist: What part of L.A do you live in?

Florencia Pita: For the last 6 years I have lived in Downtown LA, in what is called the Old Bank District Buildings. When we first moved the neighborhood was quite desolated, but it has changed radically, there is such an interesting dynamic in this part of town now, which has actually transformed the way you live there. And what is most interesting is that it happened in the last five years.

Tell me anything you would like about Alice:

Alice installation focuses on ideas of figuration and color. Figuration is developed as a way to exaggerate form, to capture very specific geometrical notations of given objects and manipulate them, a kind of exacerbated embellishment of curvaceous form. Color allows for the double manipulation of materiality and space, certain materials have a coded color condition that defines their character; this project intends to exacerbate materiality’s character by exalting its pigmentation. In Alice the material is plastic and the color is orange, the idea was that the right sensibility for the object should be similar to that of a plastic toy, were you see how the parts lock, and you definitely have the urge to touch it. The work resides within an aesthetic of densely ornamented form that returns to a realm of embellishment and fantasy.

Why do you think Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has inspired so many different types of artists over the years?

What is quite intriguing from the several editions of the book is that each one is unique, the narrative remains the same but what is in constant change are the diverse illustrations, starting from Carroll’s (Hodgson) own sketches through Tenniel’s engravings (1865), Rackham colored drawings (1907), Walt Disney cartoons (1951), among many others. These representations add a particular imagery to the story, a keen atmosphere of characters and landscape, they sprung from the narrative but they return back to the text.

Since we're on the subject of books, and because you are an architect, I have to ask...do you like the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand?

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I haven’t read the Fountainhead, but even after 60 years the plot maintains the current dichotomy between architects that are designers and those that just build.

What is your favorite building in L.A.?

Disney Concert Hall’s gardens, the most original public space in LA, the green space atop the building expands into the folds of the façade, creating a series ‘baroque like’ labyrinth walkways.

Who is your favorite L.A artist?

Tim Hawkinson, his work is fleshy and mechanical at the same time, it is not only sculptural but also spatial. His ‘paintings’ with collage techniques are fascinating; they depict surfaces with material intensity and eerie flair.

What is the best Argentinean restaurant in L.A???

Carlitos Gardel

photos courtesy of Monica Nouwens