Photo essay: LA artist goes lowrider at Art Basel Miami

Rewind the tape once. Or fast forward. A carnival in 2202 is Miami 2022 is Elysian Park 2018. The cyborg lowrider, known as Rafa Esparza, occupies space in seemingly different eras. In different time zones. In different cosmos. There is evidence of the places he has been and of his various cyborg manifestations: a ticket, a documentary, traces of paint, memories, word of mouth.

There are also photos in the vault – a whole archive showing signs of cyborg life. In the 2018 images taken by photographer Fabian Guerrero, esparza transformed his body into a lowrider car. She brought in Mario Ayala to paint her entire body pink, in the style of the classic lowrider Gypsy Rose. Esparza hired Tanya Melendez to design a gold plaque with the words “Brown Persuasion” to hang from her back. And Guerrero was there to document the transformation at Elysian Park, a historic lowrider and gay cruiser site. The ideal place for the sparza to interpret lowrider car culture through a queer and female lens.

The images of 2018 were an opening act: “Corpo Ranfla”. The most recent chapter took place in November. 30, 2022. At Art Basel Miami, the lowrider is back. The official Art Basel site billed it as the “2.0” version. When it arrived, the lowrider was clearly unlike anything anyone had imagined: it had mutated. It had six gold feet, handlebars (antennas?), radios covered by whitewall tires, a plush throne, a classic steering wheel, a hollow green body, side mirrors. He was part machine, part human, part…something else entirely. esparza, flanked by close friends (artists Karla Ekatherine Canseco, Gabriela Ruiz, Guadalupe Rosales, designer Víctor Barragán) and LA’s creative community (Mario Ayala, American artist, Cauleen Smith, Rick Garzon, AJ Girard, Miguel and others) he had made himself. in an artwork: “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser”.

You have to see it to get the gist of it. So what follows is a visual account of the cyborg lowrider as seen through the lens of Fabian Guerrero. This photo essay is part of “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser”, a special collaboration between Rafa Esparza, Image magazine and Commonwealth and Council. See how the whole project came about here. Read “Interiority”, the official archive of “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser”, here. – The editors

The artist rafa esparza prepares to convert "Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser."

Artist rafa esparza prepares to become “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser”.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo of the golden handlebars.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

The artist rafa esparza prepares to perform.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Friends help put the finishing touches on the cyborg lowrider.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

The friends prepare the trip for the launch.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo by rafa esparza.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

The back of the lowrider is decorated with 6 feet of gold.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Karla Ekatherine Canseco sits on Rafa Esparza.

Karla Ekatherine Canseco sits on Rafa Esparza.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo of the side mirrors attached to Rafa Esparza's head.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

the torso of rafa spreads.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Words of gold from Rafa Esparza's forearms.

Words of gold from Rafa Esparza’s forearms.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Gold lowrider handlebars.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo of Victor Barragán's custom banknote that he designed for

Victor Barragán’s custom ticket he designed for “Corpo RafLA: Terra Cruiser”.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Gabriela Ruiz is the first rider to sit with Rafa Esparza.

During the performance, the artist Gabriela Ruiz was the first to mount rafa esparza.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo of the golden steering wheel.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Karla Conseco rides rafa espaza.

Before the performance, Rafa Esparza recorded a track for you to listen to privately. The script asked: What journeys do they hope to undertake? What do they want to ride for? Here, Karla Ekatherine Canseco, who helped build the piece with sparza, listens to the recording.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

The back of Rafa Esparza's head.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

rafa sparsa on horseback.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Hands touch a pair of handlebars.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

scattered rafa shoulder.

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Photo of

(Fabian Guerrero / For The Times)

Fabian Guerrero is a first-generation Mexican-American based in Los Angeles, born in Dallas. Create images that reflect on past, present and possible futures of our generation. His work reflects and is inspired by his upbringing as a first-generation immigrant and a queer brown individual.

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