On June 24, 2017 I floated down the Los Angeles River to an opening at the artist-run space BBQLA. With the river’s concrete bank next to my Elysian Valley home I had begun to consider it a mysterious and underused way to traverse Los Angeles. I created a floating structure made of truck tire inner tubes from a tire warehouse and scouted out entrance and exit points for my venture. Warnings of bacteria, legality, and its reputation for not actually holding water did not deter my interest in this media-made famous river.
I began the journey at 8 pm under a beautiful sunset. It was wonderful at first—I floated along swiftly and people waved to me from the bicycle path. Shortly into the ride I capsized, loosing the Kind bar and water bottle I had meticulously stitched to my inner tube. As the sky darkened the river took control. Mysterious bubbles, jumping creatures, birds and the occasional shadowy figure on the bank would be my company for the next few hours. The ride through Frogtown was unexpectedly difficult: I threw my tube over rocky areas, scrambling to catch up with it, and used branches to paddle down areas of still water. As I floated downtown the river became fast and narrow. It spun me into circles of delirious nausea as the city’s lights sparkled off its surface. I arrived at BBQLA at midnight. My four hours alone on the river felt like an intimate experience with the underbelly of Los Angeles.
The majority of my trip was live-streamed from my phone to BBQLA as I approached the space. Below is a cut of the footage. The BBQLA opening that night was for “Set the Table,” curated by Thomas Linder. A special thank you to him for enthusiastic support of my river float aspirations and assistance in preliminary river scouting.