VPAM cruises back to ’90s youth culture

CN: Diego Linares

By Luis Castilla

Guadalupe Rosales opened her new exhibit, “Echoes of A Collective Memory,” at The Vincent Price Art Museum Saturday.

The event extended beyond VPAM as NU MINIS, VW Clan and Lady Volks parked their cars in between S1 and S2.

“Echoes of a Collective Memory” contains a collection of symbolic artifacts and photographs that represent what the ‘90s youth culture of Latino/a’s in the Los Angeles area was like.

“Thinking about the past is important for nostalgia and reminiscing but also to reflect on it,” said Rosales.

Rosales founded and operates two Instagram accounts: “Veteranas & Rucas,” a visual archive for the lives of Latina women in Southern California, and “Map Pointz,” an archive for the party crew scene.

In this exhibit, she has brought her archives to life.

Rosales has made a name and a career for herself by archiving the experiences of others like herself.

“Remembering the past helps me understand the present and prepare for the future,” Rosales said.

The exhibit is set in the ‘90s party scene. Rosales’ intention is to give visitors an immersive experience by putting them directly in a ‘90s warehouse party. Rosales sets the atmosphere with bass-heavy dance music and neon-colored lights that paint the room blue.

Before entering the exhibit, there is an interactive payphone by the door that, when picked up, will play a real audio recording from the ‘90s that guides visitors to a party, which the exhibit represents.

Rosales gives these instructions, “Pick up the phone and see where the next party is taking place at and wait for your friends to pick you up. Mostly ‘lapping it’ and with so much happening this weekend you’ll be hitting up multiple parties or cruise down the boulevard.”

Rebeca Vega, curatorial assistant and registrar at VPAM, explained that in the ‘90s, young people shared directions to parties called “map points,” through voicemails on telephone numbers connected to pagers, referred to as “party lines.” These telephone numbers were found on flyers that circulated throughout Southern California in the ‘90s.

A wall of these flyers can be found inside. Vega said that it was amazing these flyers are here today because they were meant to be used only once, for the purposes of informing people about what “party line” to call, who was hosting the event and when it took place. Each flyer is unique and some flyers are just hand drawn maps to the party.

The wall of flyers also has colorful abstract posters on it that, in the ‘90s, would line the walls of warehouse parties. When coupled with neon lights, these posters would create a visual experience that would add an extra layer to the vibe of the ‘90s party scene.

One of the most personal works in the exhibit is the altar Rosales has dedicated to her cousin, Ever M. Sanchez, who died because of gang violence.

Visitors are given a glimpse into the everyday lives of young Latina women with a collaged mural of photographs called “Latinas Mapping the City.” The mural contains pictures of young women posing all around Southern California from 1994 to 1998.

Rosales combines the party scene with the more personal backdrop of a teenage bedroom.

She placed a beaded necklace with a pager attached to it, something a young woman would have in her bedroom. In the center of the exhibit are two “gogo boxes,” which Vega says were used for girls or couples to dance on.

These “gogo boxes” are lined with party flyers but also have private items sitting upon them such as magazines, letters, a framed photograph and materials a young woman would need to get ready to go out.

She also put out a collection of party crew hats. These hats have the names of different party crews on them. Rosales made practical use of her art as well by placing mirrors and cruiser’s sunglasses on and around a projector playing a video compilation of actual warehouse parties like the one the artist is recreating.

The video is over 4 minutes long and many people who attended the event experienced the ‘90s party scene first-hand.

“Sometimes, with 3-way calling, several friends would just talk a lot of crap to each other,” said Elizabeth Gonzales, an attendee of the exhibit who used “party lines” in the ‘90s.

“It was a thing to do. We didn’t have social media or the internet, it was something to pass the time.”

“Echoes of a Collective Memory” will be on display until Jan. 19. Admission is free and the exhibit is open to the public.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *