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e-flux conversations

Escaping From Exile by Belonging to an Exiled Land

A complicated chain of events landed me in Los Angeles, on the west coast of the USA. It is a wonderful city, fascinated by itself to the point of being oblivious to what occurs outside of it. This is not the ideal place to be exiled to.

When forced to leave one’s home, an exile’s continuing struggle shapes him into a soldier—and a soldier can do little more than survive while he waits for the next battle, as he is less than likely to win the war. Los Angeles is an ideal place for soldiers, because there you have to fight against almost everything and everyone.

There are no events in the heart of LA; all events take place outside the city, so that it may only later reassemble them. In the meantime, all that exists in the city and its outskirts sits on a waiting list: events, jobs, careers, and potential futures. In such a proud city, undocumented and unnamed streets must avoid the center of gravity. These too must live in the suburbs where life is lived on a much smaller scale, far from the spotlights of the brightest city in the world.

I was an artist and a journalist, so it’s natural for me to think of Los Angeles as a dreamland—one in which I can no longer be myself. As in a dream, you exist by forgetting everything about yourself. You feel the need to constantly expose your inner self—until you can no longer wake up and be yourself again. I tried to stay connected to my past when I was there, but I think I failed. In LA, there is a powerful machine producing dreams, and you must only dream and do little else.

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