La Conchita mon amour


Christina McPhee


La Conchita mon amour is a multimedia site study of the aftermath of debris flow in a beach town in southern California, La Conchita, on January 10, 2005. For eighteen months I visited La Conchita at one month intervals, shooting and drawing within the shattered spaces and vernacular shrine building . La Conchita's setting of powerful natural cycles, from the tides to the recurrence of debris flow in winter, found an algorithmic analog through editing with seventies-era sequencers at the Experimental Television Center, New York, in winter 2005; later I remixed this content in nonlinear digital editing. In summer 2006 I shot HD video; some of this content is here downsampled for the net. Kyong Mee Choi  shared her electronic voice composition, TAO (2005)  for video installation and now for the net. Special thanks to the people of La Conchita for allowing me to explore their spontaneous structures built to defy indifference.


For Turbulence, the online interactive work La Conchita mon amour is an elegy to the lost lives at La Conchita.

Quicktime and Flash plugins, fast connection.


Launch online project: la conchita mon amour



Currently on exhibition in New York: La Conchita mon amour: video, drawing, photography at

 Sara Tecchia Roma New York, October 19 to November 22, 2006



on bare life and the traumatic landscape: an interview Christina McPhee with Amy Wiley on VIROSE

catalog excerpts and video stills on

catalog: La Conchita mon amour


With this new body of work, McPhee continues her exploration of the synchronicity between natural disaster and  human trauma at the tiny coastal town of La Conchita, California. This community, just north of Los Angeles on Highway 1/101, is built on an ancient mudslide and has been subject to periodic massive debris flows. The most recent, in 2005, took ten lives and left a huge mass of fallen mountain on the town. Yet the inhabitants must continue to stay, despite the inevitable recurrence of this threat. La Conchita remaps the problematic of living with disaster in California in immediate, raw terms, since the trauma is always already here. Global warming appears to be accelerating the danger. Without resources for healing or leaving, La Conchita lives on in abandonment. The plight of residents at La Conchita is a microcosm of the conditions of bare life in post-911 material culture.


California-based Christina McPhee (1954 Los Angeles) interprets the sense of place in drawing, video installation, and multimedia. She works in remote landscapes at the edges of the urban condition. 
Christina McPhee's photography, drawing and time based arts explore the phenomenology of place. She has recently created theatrical video for Pamela Z's "Wunderkabinet", an opera based on stories from the Museum of Jurassic Technology, opening this month at REDCAT Theatre, Walt Disney Music Hall, Los Angeles. Her films and interactive media have shown at FILE Sao Paulo, prog:me Rio de Janeiro, ICA /Cybersonica; Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; and is in the collections of Cornell University Rose Goldsen Archive of Electronic Media Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art Artport, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art / Rhizome Artbase. Her paintings and drawings are found in American museums including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Her multichannel video installation "Carrizo Diaries" on seismic memory was shown this summer (2006) at the Cartes Centre for Art and Technology, Espoo (Helsinki), Finland with support from the American Scandinavian Foundation, following solo exhibition at Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden (2005).  Her writing on the poetics of electronic space, trauma, and identity have been published online for Neural and CTheory..