LA-LIKE: Transgressing the Pacific

GO WEST, they say, but only the Pacific can tell you when to stop.

In Los Angeles, a town of making or breaking it, a third option is just to disappear. The California dream of reinvention is propped up by vanishing acts both real and scripted. A thousand last breaths are drawn every day across Hollywood. Most are staged, which makes it all the more spectacular when a star’s real death follows cinematic convention—“just like in the movies.”

Zoe Crosher’s noirish book LA-LIKE: Transgressing the Pacific (Hesse Press, 2016) features a portfolio of seven photographs of sites where various icons—real, invented, or somewhere in between—slipped off the edge of the continent. Images range from the luridly lit cove of the pebbly beach where Natalie Wood washed up, to the Venice pier where Michael Douglas’s rampaging engineer from Falling Down made good on the movie’s title, to the ivory fringe of breaking waves on Ocean Park Beach, where the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished mid-swim in 1926. McPherson was later found in an Arizona hospital, with a dubious tale of a kidnapping. Like her adopted city, she chose to make disappearance a central part of her narrative.

Zoe Crosher, Where Natalie Wood Disappeared off Catalina Island, 2008, C-print, 40 × 40". Courtesy the artist.