Rewind the tape one time. Or fast-forward. A carnival in 2202 is Miami 2022 is Elysian Park 2018. The lowrider cyborg, a.k.a. rafa esparza, takes up space across seemingly different eras. In different time zones. In different cosmos. There is evidence of the places it has been and its different cyborgian manifestations: a ticket, a documentary, traces of paint, memories, word of mouth.
There are also photos in the vault — an entire archive showing cyborgian signs of life. In the 2018 images made by photographer Fabian Guerrero, esparza transformed his body into a lowrider car. He brought in Mario Ayala to paint his entire body a highlighter pink, in the style of the classic lowrider Gypsy Rose. esparza enlisted Tanya Melendez to design a golden plaque reading “Brown persuasion” to hang from his behind. And Guerrero was there to document the transformation at Elysian Park — a historic site of lowrider and gay cruising. The ideal place for esparza to interpret lowrider car culture through a queer and feminine lens.
The 2018 images were an opening act: “Corpo Ranfla.” The most recent chapter took place on Nov. 30, 2022. At Art Basel Miami, the lowrider returned. 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 (antennae?), spokes ensconced by white wall tires, a plush throne, a classic steering wheel, a hollow green body, side mirrors. It was part machine, part human, part … something else entirely. esparza — flanked by close friends (artists Karla Ekatherine Canseco, Gabriela Ruiz, Guadalupe Rosales, designer Victor Barragán) and L.A.’s creative community (Mario Ayala, American Artist, Cauleen Smith, Rick Garzon, AJ Girard, Miguel and others) — had made himself into a work of art: “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser.”
You need to see it to get the gist. Hence, what follows is a visual account of the lowrider cyborg 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 to be here. Read “Interiority,” the official archive of “Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser,” here. — The editors
Fabian Guerrero is a first-generation Mexican American based in Los Angeles, born in Dallas. He creates images that reflect on pasts, presents and possible futures of our generation. His work both reflects and is inspired by his upbringing as a first-generation immigrant and a queer brown individual.
This story originally appeared on LATimes