There's something simple and elegant about Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg's portraits, which are on view in a strong exhibition organized by independent curator Aleim Johnson at the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies. She uses her camera as a modest yet powerful tool with which to shift the sitters' context, which in turn makes us see them in a new way.
The original context couldn't be more clouded, conflicted and highly charged. As recounted in a perceptive, no-nonsense catalog essay by writer and photographer Carla Williams, Lixenberg spent a month in 1993 going daily to Imperial Courts in Watts to observe and photograph the residents there. The second trial of the police officers accused in the brutal beating of Rodney King was underway. Imperial Courts, one of the largest federal housing projects in the city, had been inundated with mass media using the site as a reference point.