Zoe Crosher

by Jordan Auckland

Head Out on the Highway, Forgetting the Adventure
A child of a diplomat and a flight attendant, Los Angeles-based artist Zoe Crosher spent much of her childhood as an outsider, detached from the country of her birth. Time and again her works return to the themes of transience and impermanence, yet Crosher shuns the idea that her work has a place in the canon of counter-culture. “Counter-culture is a word that never even enters my vocabulary,” she says. “I associate this notion with a more traditional and historical approach to activism, a more reactive stance, literally a countering to culture. It is an approach that certainly is important and has a place, but is not, at least for now, the strategy I employ to effect change. I’m looking for a way through something, not against something—or perhaps this very approach defines an iconoclast, and I am one even if I don’t intend to be?”

While many artists lose themselves in counter-culture, rebellion, and rock and roll, Crosher walks a different path: “I’m not interested in criticizing, destroying or opposing whatever the status quo is for its own sake. I am much more interested in notions of expansions—of engaging, activating, and opening up conventional standards to go beyond whatever the current norms and expectations are.”

Crosher might doubt that she is an iconoclast, yet her work continuously chases new horizons. In her work with the LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, Crosher created a series of billboards of lush vegetation that stretched through the Californian desert, urging “people to reconsider the history and mythology of the cross-country road trip.”

“My hope was to disrupt their normal commute,” Crosher says, “Their everyday—to present the passersby with images just unfamiliar enough as to shake them out of their predictable comfort zone of traditional commercial billboard imagery.

“Instead of talking abstractly and fantasizing about the trip West, the idea is to physically move through the problematic landscape being fantasized—to punctuate the landscape by tracing territorial expansion from East to West, to insist on reconsidering the history behind the fantasy.”

Disrupting expectations, reconsidering history; Boundless U.S. History records that “Rock music of the 1960s… embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements...counterculture…spread out from San Francisco...rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.”

The counter-culture of the ’60s drifted across California, and still echoes through the amp of every young rock and roller. Crosher’s work may yet find itself to be a part of the general clamor of the time—iconic of the noise that this era will one day be known for. It’s the very process of remembering she’s interested in, the backward glance, and the artifice of it our memories and histories create. As she puts it, “I’m concerned with the imaginary, the image, the conversation around the image, the memory of the image, the misremembering of the image. The medium itself doesn’t matter so much to me, it’s more a conceptual conceit.”