Author Archives: Dennis Rudolph


theportalendblog32So did this art project. Travel here to die.
Never to be realized.

The unrealized idea of building a portal between heaven and hell at the end of the western world-California City.

California where the expansion of the western culture was brought to a halt. Stopped by the natural limitation of the Pacific.

Here where the gaze turned inwards.
A portal as a mirror to the soul of the western man.
Here build this culture a monument: the|portal

GOD‘s power derives from his absence.
There is no picture of GOD.
The idea stays around.

Inbetween heaven and hell.

Inbetween good and evil.

The unrealized idea remains in a state of arrested developement just like California City, the failed urban developement project.

Why, the portal project is realized by not realizing it.

The missing californian children have no place by having a place on the never to be realized portal situated in the never realized city where all the empty streets have names.

In their name…theportalendblog3

P.C. 7/19/2014

Because of political correctness I decided today that THE|PORTAL will not lead to hell if you enter the „Eastern World“.

In fact THE|PORTAL will have one side only, marking the end of the western world. If that is the entrance to hell or to heaven I don’t know myself. THE|PORTAL should be both or neither.


The one sided portal is then a reflection of the West itself which can always only see himself in others. Or better – it is here at „the site at which Western colonial expansion reached its natural limit, and thus changed its direction, from outward expansion to an inner intensification.“ (Anselm Franke)

Day Of The Missing Child

NCMC604028c1It is the most tragic thing that can happen to a parent and apart from the great uncertainty of the missing child’s whereabouts and it’s well-being – there is one thing certain: Your missing child is alive.

Missing children are not dead and can never die or we would stop looking for them. They are the undead of our society. They surround us everyday, mostly in form of photos but there is no way we can reintroduce them into our group. We can not interact with them on the basis of some sort of exchange. The dialogue with a missing child can only be an inner painful monolog.

There is no way around it or better: there is no way to it.

We have to try to deal with the unbearable and not only today on the day of the missing child but everyday!

In an attempt to give the missing children a fixed place, a place to honor their daily absence, to acknowledge their existence and so to acknowledge our pain, I put their portraits up on
THE|PORTAL, temporary at the entrance to California City.

Some of the photos I chose, seem to be very old and there is little hope you might ever find this child again, who by now must have turned into an adult. But this is not for the missing children, it is for us who are present and here in this room today. It is for us who cannot mourn somebody who is not dead. And maybe this is also for our inner child we could never bury inside of us.

California City is a very special place with a very special feeling to it. This might not occur to anybody living here but to me the empty streets, the crazy winds and crazy stars, all the missed opportunities and the missing people in this town make California City just the right place for THE|PORTAL which will also be a monument for the missing child.

Dennis Rudolph on behalf of THE|PORTAL, 5/20/2014DAY OF THE MISSING CHILD

Why Southern California?

L.A.“The Pacific beaches are where young men stop going West, where the great waves of agrarian migration from Europe and the Middle West broke in a surf of fulfilled and frustrated hopes. The strength and nature of this westward flow need to be understood; it underlies the differences of mind between Los ANgeles and its sistermetropolis to the north.”

“San Francisco was plugged into California from the sea […] Yankee houses and prefabricated New England (or European) attitudes were dumped unmodified on the Coast. Viewed from Southern California it looks like a foreign enclave […] the Southern Californians came, predominantly, overland to Los Angeles, slowly traversing the whole North American land-mass and its evovling history.”

“Los Angeles is the Middle West raised to flash-point, the authoritarian dogmas of the Bible Belt and the perennial revolt against them colliding at critical mass under the palm trees. Out if it comes a cultural situation where only the extreme is normal…”

-Reyner Banham



“The Development from primal societys to modern society is irreversible: eventually the dead cease to exist. They are excluded from symbolic circulation within the group. They are not anymore suited as partners for exchange, and are being told so by being banished more and more from the group of the living: first from the intimity of the house to the graveyard (a collection center in the heart of the village or city at the beginning). Then from the center of town more and more towards the periphery (the first ghetto) and finally into a nowhere, as in the modern city and contemporary metropolis, in which there is no place intended for the dead, not in physical space nor in spiritual space.”

“We all now what it is with these untrackable places, because if the factory doesn’t exist anymore, work is everywhere. If the graveyard doesn’t exist anymore, then only because the modern city as a whole has taken over this function: it is a dead city – a city of the dead. And if the big metropolis is the final expression of a whole culture, than ours is simply a culture of death.”

Of course this also applies to Los Angeles but it is just much more obvious in California City. Seen from above as in google maps the empty streets already look like the construction of a huge enormous cemetry. That’s why this is a much suitable place for a monument to Western World – the place of THE|PORTAL.

THE|PORTAL – failed monument

1st: The Site (California City)

The location of the monument THE PORTAL is California City, a failed urban development project from the late 1950s in the Mojavi Desert, 150 miles north of Los Angeles. Originally planned to rival California‘s capital in size and population, today only 14.000 people live in California City. Empty streets carved out into the desert sand covering an area bigger than L.A. become the lifesize blueprint of a modern city. There is a feeling of missed opportunities. Cal City is a failed-monument.

2nd: The Idea

Following the path of the european settlers and many engineers after the 2nd WW, I came from Germany to California to build a Portal. Referring to the tradition of sacred architecture, one side of the Portal will represent the entrance to hell, the other side the entrance to heaven. The two sides face east and west. Turning the religious into the geopolitical, hell is the entrance to the “Eastern World”, heaven the entrance to the “West”. THE PORTAL will mark the end of the „Western World“ in a geological, historical and cultural sense. The gateway doesn‘t lead anywhere, hell and heaven are on the same construction and „western culture“ is spread all over the world.

3rd: The People

A true democratic monument should be built by the people. I proposed to build this monument together with the High School students of California City in September 2013. The students would create their own depictions of heaven and hell. These depictions would then be fired and glazed onto self made ceramic tiles that were to form the walls of the two sided portal. The gate would have been a literal construction of the students values, as well as the values that shape this country.

After numerous public presentations at the California City city council and several meetings with the intendant and the arts teacher of the High School, the super intendant of the Mojavi School District as well as with the local arts commission, with no result, I finally decided to do the Portal Project on my own. It seems to this point that building a monument of Good and Evil that will also mark the end of the “Western World” together with the local community of Cal City failed.


Currently I am in the process of building the archway of the heaven‘s side of the Portal, consisting of 34 portraits of missing californian children on ceramic tiles. Together with the support of Russell Michael, a local artist and Vietnam Veteran, we built an information center at the city entrance in order to promote the building of a gate to hell and heaven. By submitting photos of loved ones you miss, the local community could still take part in the project.

Though I would still like to build the Portal, I remain uncertain if not the documentation of a failed monument-project may actually be the main part of the work.

Dennis Rudolph, California City, 0ct 2013

CALIFORNIA CITY – OCT. 19-20 by Ann Van Hulle

On Saturday morning I only heard once before of the place we would sleep that night: California City. In between Death Valley and Los Angeles City, there is a town with a huge prison, an airstrip and Gloria’s Mexican restaurant named to queen Calafia ‘s paradise: California City.

Around 5 pm we hit the road to the Mohave; I was trying to succeed in my fourth day of the notorious Master Cleanse, and while driving trough the blue hour, I drank 12 onzes of maple syrup sweetened lemonade before we arrived at our host; Dennis Rudolph.

Dennis found himself a residency during the past Spring in California; he works and lives in the hangar next to the airstrip and sleeps in a reformed classroom trailer.  The full moon just arose over the mountains when he welcomes us at the trailer. Using some bowls made from cut-a-half plastic bottles, one plate and a chile conserve, we prepare some fusion Brie quesadillas, some Mediterranean-Middle Eastern inspired toasts and burritos…  The smell of a last minute cooking on the camping stove tortillas and beans weaken my determination to cleanse, so I went to  sleep with a stomach full of cheese, wheat and beans infused by red wine.

It’s the first night since my arrival in September that I lay on a real matrass, and it feels as sleeping in the clouds, until my first meal in more than 72 hours starts to disrupt the dreams I am living. A midnight ride to the entrance of the airport on the concrete airstrip leads to the sanitary block, although it didn’t interrupt the dreams that would follow.

The next morning we drink coffee on the porch of the trailer: we sit on the metal doorsteps and chatting with Dennis in his plastic garden chair about living in California City. He just mentioned that he never get any unexpected visitor passing by, when a car drives in, and a gray-hair sixty-year-old looking man pops out.  The friendly passenger names Allen; he has some cars stalled in front of Dennis trailer. Allen has a car restoration shop in Cal City and owns some of the old fashioned jalopies that he points out by name and brand.  The property that Allen and Dennis sharing is from Fisher, a LAPD cop with big aspirations to make movie props. The courtyard exhibits some of his personal noble unfinished intentions; police cars, cockpits, jets, … and plenty of metal ware.

A few minutes after we met Allen, Marilyn comes out the car, the couple represents a real life Hollywood romance. Before a few years ago when they met again, they didn’t hear or see from each other for about 40 years. After their first date as teenagers, he never asked her out again, they both married and became single parents. Thanks to the almighty internet; Allen sent her an email after decades of radio silence. The story been told and she added that you never can forget the first love. It’s an adorable couple, unfolding themselves as open minded people from town interested in Dennis project.  Dennis introduces them to his art work and shows Marilyn and Allen the tiles he made in the hangar. About 20 different images are displayed on the ground, each made of 4 tiles of kids who are smiling and looking at us. Most kids seem officially portrayed by the school photographer on a generic id frontal frame and looking straight and joyful to the lens of the camera. Dennis adopted the pictures from the internet; the kids been registered as missing California children.  Marilyn engages with the imagery while Allen is fascinated by Dennis his work process and production.  It appears to me that Allen and Marilyn are the first people from town, to create synergy between Dennis’ art and his inspiring surrounding environment.