Berlin-based artists Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano reflect critically on the perpetually negotiated conflict between the built environment and nature that is so inherent to Los Angeles. Their primary focus in Los Angeles is on the space of the garden and the alley, as mediator-spaces between the architecture and the wild. While Angelenos may not live in nature and while animals and the elements may not reside inside physical structures, the gardens and alleyways of Southern California act as neutral territory, as green zones across suburbia traversed and occupied by both humans and nature alike. In this ongoing “battle,” one agent of nature remains a master of reconnaissance: the raccoon. A mammal occupying a grey zone—it’s not quite a rat, but certainly not a house cat—raccoons are assumed city-dwellers, and rarely thought of as forest creatures. They tend to dart quickly through urban space under the cover of night, digging though trashcans for our refuse and, one can imagine, our secrets.
Intrigued by the way that raccoons inhabit the city, Halilaj and Urbano sought to understand the raccoon’s form of espionage by recreating, reframing, and mimicking the animal’s key tendencies. Visitors to the Schindler House in the first two weeks of February encountered the artists in costume, living as raccoons themselves in preparation for Final Projects, where sculptures and an installation highlighted the work of this well-known, but under-recognized Californian critter.