James Dean Rest Stop (LA)

LA, CA. Impromptu memorials appear wherever tragedies happen. They often include interpretation(s) of what happened, photos, stories and tributes from loved ones to the victim(s). They appear spontaneously, and remain as long as they are needed for the grieving process, or until they are replaced by a more official and permanent memorial. Crosses on the highway are a common marker of someone's death on the road, usually unknown except to family and friends. James Dean's death on the highway has gone one step more official, as a "rest stop" exhibition. 


Safety instructions on how to get to an actual roadside memorial nearby.


"The perfect embodiment of an eternal struggle..."


Morbid details are an essential part of the narrative.


The exhibition fills one of the standard highway display vitrines, but I wasn't able to find any credit or "curator's" statement. 


On the opposite side, next to a typical local wildlife display, was this unintentional but deeply disturbing "exhibition" about missing children. Sometimes having no interpretation at all is the most powerful experience of all.


The rest stop is just the beginning of a multi location experience. After passing the actual intersection and memorial where James Dean died, the Blackwell Corner General Store makes the final grand gesture of respect with an enormous hall of impromptu memorabilia, and 50's style diner. 


Roadside attractions may be the most amateur form of narrative and exhibition, abut they are often intensely motivated, a place where local legends are created.