It's 559 Somewhere

2013
Public intervention, converging carpools, monitor, CDs, bumper stickers
The Flying J, Bakersfield, CA

The San Joaquin Valley is located in Central California and is home to the highest grossing agricultural region in the United States. It is a region with the same quality of life issues as the rest of the country: poverty, poor air and water quality, and high unemployment and dropout rates. The reality is that the statistics of quality of life issues in this region are much higher than the national average. The personal effects of these issues can be indirect and overlooked for some, or stifling and overwhelming for others. Many people, myself included, have left the region in search of higher education, higher paying jobs, or a breath of fresh air.

The culture shock and identity variations that became visible to me through conversations and interactions when I first moved to LA have likewise been common experiences for many others from rural and suburban environments living in larger cities. These moments are part of the migratory experience and happen no matter where you're from.  

Its 559 Somewhere uses migration experiences from the San Joaquin Valley as the anchor point to examine the liminal zones that arise with culture shock and regional identity variations. The project reveals the intimate relationship forged with the road connecting the Central Valley to the rest of California, and the personal aspects of migration from rural and suburban to urban environments by exploring the complex imagery associated with transitory moments of liminal zones between regions of California.

Two carpools, one from Los Angeles and another from Fresno, met at The Flying J Travel Center near Bakersfield, CA. The group met with travelers and talked about the experience of traveling to and from the San Joaquin Valley as they junction from Hwy 99 to the I-5. They also distributed a road-trip CD playlist of songs current and former Central Valley residents found to be reminiscent of the valley and the experience of traveling to and from the region. Songs included Prince’s “Erotic City,” Journey’s “Small Town Girl,” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off.”  We also passed out bumper stickers with text about perceptions of Los Angeles and Central California.

 

Flores’ video Somewhere In Between played on a loop on a monitor set up in the rear of her hatchback. The video features current and former Central Valley residents describing the culture shock of moving outside the valley and what it’s like when they return home to visit. Images in the video include gourmet cheeses, animals from the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, and a crustacean shedding its exoskeleton.

 

The site intervention intended to bring to itinerant travelers together in a public space to reflect on the cultural shift that happens when traveling both to and away from the San Joaquin Valley. These experiences are a microcosm of the larger experience of migration.