Los Angeles Contemporary Archive

Prima Sakuntabhai, LEHM

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Published in conjunction with a performative lecture, L.E.H.M. (Le Corbusier Entering Hadrian’s Mausoleum, 1965).

A narrator with an ambiguous accent and gender identity weaves together disparate facts in a performative lecture. The narrator uses three overhead projectors and collages of various architectural elements on transparency to illustrate the story. Central subjects of the presentation are two cylindrical structures built two thousand years and six hundred miles apart; Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum in Rome (135 AD) and Le Corbusier’s Obus Plans for Algiers (1933-1942). Jorge Luis Borges states in “The Circular Ruins” that the circle is a site for a man to procreate another man. Through the cipher of architecture the narrator draws a through-line between classical and modernist thought as material evidence of westward expansion and colonial conquest. The narrative is framed by the death and internment of the father of modernism as well as the plans for his final project, which was designed for Algeria, the final resting point of Hadrian’s conquest of the East.

Mirrors, which typically produce a crisp static image for the overhead projectors are used to duplicate and distort the projections. The narrator introduces hand-held external mirrors to embody a reversal of the reflected images. Projected light moves across walls, ceiling, and floor and occasionally breaks out of the bounds of the architecture to the street level. The narrator holds the act of reflection in their hands, both in the physical use of mirrors and in the allegorical conveyance of ideas. This challenges the legacy of the West seeing itself through “the other” and questions who can claim ownership and inheritance of classical and modernist thought.

Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai lives and works in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Contemporary Archive is an artist-run archive and non-circulating library in which contemporary creative processes are recorded and preserved.