_Kaucyila Brooke is a Los Angeles based artist who produces photo and text narratives for installation and publication, photographs, critical texts and works in video art.
She is the co-editor of the web magazine Site Street and the Director of the Program in Photography at CalArts in Los Angeles.

The Boy Mechanic, 2000
Multi Channel Video / 3 DVDs (color, sound),
approx. each 5'
Courtesy of the artist
v iew a sequence 1600 KB

By Kelly Hankin*

The Boy Mechanic offers, like a contemporary version of the early twentieth century "how-to" instructional book it takes its name from, a map of this trace. Acting as our tour guide, the video reveals the topography of the city to be a lesbian graveyard. The urban structures and sites that used to, but today no longer, beckon and harbor lesbians – architecture, highways, hills, enclaves, parking lots – litter and haunt the city like the physical and ghostly remnants of the dead. Touring via car and foot, The Boy Mechanic invites the viewer along to excavate these remnants. One of the more striking ways that the video reveals the city to be a lesbian ghost town is through its foregrounding of the facades of defunct lesbian bars, focusing in particular on their entry-ways. Much of The Boy Mechanic’s tour consists of returning to various sites of former lesbian bars, the camera lingering on their doors as an often-unseen narrator details the bar’s lesbian history and its present function. While they no longer function as portals to lesbian space, as doors that once functioned as such, they still mark for the viewer and are reminders of the present absence of lesbian space. Moreover, as we – the viewer and our tour guide – are repeatedly confronted with closed doors, the video also foregrounds not just the absence of lesbian space, but the inaccessibility of extant public space to lesbians.
Though its repetition of architecturally diverse doors maps a city replete with and marked by lesbianism, as doors that are both figuratively and literally closed to lesbians, this map presents both a lesbian city that is no longer and a contemporary urban realm that is unavailable for public lesbian congregation. (..)

* Forthcoming in Camera Obscura, Issue 45, (2000)


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