Los Angeles Poverty Department

Fund: $45,000

Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD)—an institution devoted to presenting exhibitions and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities—will present Compassion and Self-Deception, a multidisciplinary project by artist Robby Herbst and LAPD. Following last year’s passage of the $1.2 billion bond measure for new housing for the homeless, neighborhoods from East LA to Venice have resisted these efforts while makeshift encampments grow across the city. Compassion and Self-Deception will examine the political, ethical, and psychological dimensions of these contradictory attitudes toward homelessness, manifesting as an exhibition, performance, and the creation and distribution of guides in the form of annotated maps of the city. The shared research process between Robby Herbst and LAPD will result in an eponymously titled exhibition by Herbst at LAPD’s Skid Row History Museum, a performance developed and performed by LAPD’s core company of Skid Row residents, and Herbst’s creation of two new guides to the city—one mapping sites of cruelty in Los Angeles and the other exploring sites of compassion, as experienced by its homeless residents in particular. Collectively titled A Socio-Empathic Guide To LA, the guides will include relevant architecture, public policy, and social practices, functioning as a behavioral guide for users. The project will be developed through research in the LAPD archives, collaborative workshops with LAPD members and other Skid Row residents, as well as frontline social service workers whose daily work embodies compassion. Herbst founded the geographically focused Llano Del Rio Collective that produces free thematic guides in the form of foldable, annotated maps of the city, including Utopias of So.Cal., An Antagonists Guide to the Assholes of LA, and A People’s Art History of Los Angeles. A Socio-Empathic Guide to LA will be distributed throughout the city via Llano Del Rio’s network.