California City

The work California City (2010-2012) can be seen as the starting point of a larger research on the neoliberal utopia and the urban neoliberal experiment. Photography and text unfold intermingling perspectives on a sociologist’s ideological dream on community theory versus the same sociologist’s intentional construction of a real estate bubble. Next to this a compiled cartographic GIS work casts light on a parallel reality stressing California City’s contemporary landownership. On the one hand the map shows an empty desolate community, on the other hand a flourishing landscape of tax income.

In the early 1950’s, Mendelsohn, a Czech born sociologist, envisioned a plan to develop a catchment area for the human overflow from Los Angeles and San Francisco. He bought 330 km2 of land in order to experiment with community planning and development theories. Construction of his dream began, with laying out a massive grid with 52,000 plots, highways, cul-de-sacs, street signs and power- and waterlines. A Central Park, a lake, a golf course were constructed and model housing was erected.

California City, situated in the Mojave Desert, was incorporated in 1965 and eventually became the 3rd largest city in California in area and the 34th largest in the entire USA. Today, amidst Edwards Air Force Base, two car testing centers, a Space Shuttle airstrip, an open pit mine and a high security prison, Mendelsohn’s city reflects the American Dream as a failure as well as a new pioneers Utopia.