Harry Gamboa Jr.

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“The Sixth Expanse,” performed by Virtual Vérité, ©2016, Harry Gamboa Jr.; 6th Street Bridge pillar, demolition in-process.

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“The Sixth Expanse,” performed by Virtual Vérité, ©2016, Harry Gamboa Jr.; Ana Garcia.

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“The Sixth Expanse,” performed by Virtual Vérité, ©2016, Harry Gamboa Jr.; (l-r) Loan Nguyen, Steven La Ponsie,Carolina Maki Kitagawa, Francesco X. Siqueiros, Joseemar Coreas, Nebras Hoveizavi, Vincent Ramos, Vilma Villela.


Since 1933, the 6th Street Bridge stood as the iconic landmark that connected Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles. In 2015, the official proclamation of its imminent demolition provided an opportunity for me to direct Virtual Vérité in a series of ephemeral actions that would be performed over nearly a two-year span to insinuate invisible lines of resistance against displacement of people and erasure of place. “The Sixth Expanse” consists of repeated gestures involving crossing, dancing, walking, posing, laughing, leaning, wandering and struggling on its surface or within the vicinity of the bridge, in tandem with the inevitable chipping away towards its total destruction of familiarity to the point of collective utter loss.

The incursion of gentrification and creeping ultra-capitalization of the general area adjacent to the 6th Street Bridge has moved swiftly to cover areas that had been unnoticed or forgotten for nearly half a century. The current residents of Boyle Heights have had a different view looking westward to the exponential growth of high-value properties as they inch closer to their community, whose concerns have long been ignored by the mainstream. The threat of being priced out of one’s home is real in surreal times when particular members of the population are being targeted based on origin, race, gender and economic status.

“The Sixth Expanse” is intended to serve as a persistent mirage that floats above the historical context of Los Angeles. Its visual impact suggests a connection of essential cooperation among those who are willing to extend their hands to help others pass over the great abyss. The elation is momentary, because we have all reached a point of reckoning. The 6th Street Bridge is gone and the wrecking ball has just begun to destroy everything in its path.

—Harry Gamboa Jr.