Reynaldo Rivera was born in Mexico but spent his childhood traveling across the border and within the United States—mostly between San Diego de la Unión, Mexico; Los Angeles; and Stockton, California—before settling as a young adult in East L.A. Rivera’s large (and largely unseen) body of photographic work captures the city’s queer clubs and house party scene in the 1980s and 1990s. These images depict a version of Los Angeles that has all but disappeared: Echo Park as a predominantly Latinx neighborhood rife with artists, writers, and performers full of flair and queer glamour.
For Made in L.A. 2020, Rivera shares a selection from this archive, including intimate photographs from clubs (front of stage and back), bars, and house parties. A vital aspect of his ongoing project is remembering and lending visibility to a community of vibrant trans women and drag performers who often died tragically and young. His images of people who are missing from public ledgers and administrative records offer a reminder that L.A. is a place with a deep history and a short memory.
In Made in L.A. 2020: a version, the artist’s work is present in two institutions, across Los Angeles. See Reynaldo Rivera's work on view at The Huntington.
Reynaldo Rivera was born in 1964 in Mexicali, Mexico. He grew up traveling throughout Mexico and the US—mostly between San Diego de la Unión, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Stockton, California. His large (and largely unseen) body of work captures queer clubs in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s as well as house party scenes. Part of Rivera’s project, as he digs through his archive, is remembering and lending visibility to a whole community of vibrant trans women and drag performers who often died young. The project is also a representation of a Los Angeles that has all but disappeared: Echo Park as a predominantly Latinx neighborhood rife with artists, writers, and performers full of flare and queer glamour, reminding us that L.A. is a place with a deep history and a short memory. Rivera has been immersed in a community of interdisciplinary practitioners: In 1996 he was one of two photographers at the Chance Event, a sprawling three-day festival at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in the Nevada desert conceived and produced by Chris Kraus, which also included DJ Spooky, Sandy Stone, Jean Baudrillard, Butoh dancers, and a Wall Street trader. Rivera has exhibited his work at Reena Spaulings, Los Angeles (2019), and has been published in Granta. In 2020 Semiotext(e) is publishing a monograph of his work.