Zuma #21
From The Zuma Series: Portfolio One

John Divola, American, born 1949

Photograph taken in Malibu, California, United States, North and Central America

1977; published 1982

Dye transfer print

Image: 14 7/16 x 17 7/8 inches (36.7 x 45.4 cm) Sheet: 16 3/16 x 20 1/4 inches (41.1 x 51.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Alice Newton Osborn Fund, 1986

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At the height of the 1970s movement exploring alternative photographic processes, Divola asserted his interest in the camera and its unique style of picture making. In this photograph, part of a portfolio, he combines the socially charged acts of trespassing and graffiti by photographing an abandoned house at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, capturing its alterations over time due to weather, fire, and other conditions.

Rather than simply recording these changes, Divola interacted with the scene, making choices about composition and lighting but also changing the appearance of the interior space. "I was always interested in intervening in a way that was visual or sculptural or performative, but not particularly interested that there be a clear line between what I had done and what was there," Divola said in a 2005 interview with Jan Tumlir published in the book John Divola: Three Acts (Aperture Foundation, 2006). "I wanted to do something in relation to what exists before the camera and not have it simply be a document of an act or an intervention, but a synthesis."