Column #3: bought for corporate collection, Dana Lixenberg

During the Corona crisis a lot of people work from their home. Since they are not in the office and cannot enjoy the artworks in their working environment, one of my clients asked me to write a short story about the works of one of the artists from their collection. This week: Dana Lixenberg, “Imperial Courts”

Dana Lixenberg, Chin and his daughter Dee Dee, 1993

In the entrance hall of this company there are four photographs. Black and white pictures, a girl standing on a crossroad, a giant tree, a deserted birthday party and a father with his baby daughter on his lap. At first glance they seem to be random pictures of daily life scenes.

Dana Lixenberg, Imperial Courts

These pictures are part of a giant project by well known Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg (1964). During a period of 22 years (1995 – 2015) Lixenberg portrayed the people of Imperial Courts, a public housing project, built in Watts, a district of Los Angeles. This is the area where in 1992 riots broke out after four LAPD police officers were acquitted of the brutal beating of Rodney King, a black taxi driver. The same streets were also the battleground of a bloody conflict between two gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, until they agreed on a truce in 1993.

It was in this year Dana got in contact with Tony Bogard’s, the leader of the PJ Watts Crips gang. He introduced her to the neighborhood and gradually she won the trust of the residents of Imperial Courts. Dana remained in contact with the community and continued her work between 2008 and 2015.

Dana Lixenberg

On you find a web documentary by Dana Lixenberg and Eefje Blankevoort about Imperial Courts, with contributions by its residents. The project involves besides the photographs a 300 page book and a triple-screen video installation of 69 minutes. This video was exhibited (18 Jan – 10 May 2020) at The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and was acquired to the museum collection.

Dana Lixenberg, Imperial Courts book

If you want more information about these works or art in your office, please contact me by email:

Sources:  Dana Lixenberg, Imperial Courts 1993 – 2015, Roma Publications Amsterdam, Huis Marseille, Dana Lixenberg, Imperial Courts, 1993–2015, 12.12.2015 — 06.03.2016

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