Best Dadaist Installation (2008)

Locks Over the 405

For reasons no one quite understands, padlocks have been strewn along a chainlink fence on an Interstate 405 overpass for several years. As this item was being whipped up, about 50 locks hung in a single row over five consecutive sections of the fence that runs alongside the southbound lanes of Fairview Street in Costa Mesa. The mystery routinely catches the attention of the local press. How could it not in 1998, when the summertime appearance of 199 locks on the fence prompted Los Angeles Times reporter Geoff Boucher to fruitlessly seek answers from the city, police and Caltrans as to what in Hades was going on? The locks quickly disappeared right after the Times story was published, prompting more beats-us shrugs from government mouthpieces. Then, slowly, one by one, locks reappeared on the fence. Theories abound. Could it be part of a Mexican custom to signify answered prayers? A similar Chinese tradition? Students marking graduations? As indicated above, no one is quite sure, so before anyone takes credit for the practice, we'll deem this Mystery of Lock-ness an obvious public art display owing to Dadaism, the anti-art, post-World War I movement that protested oppressive intellectual rigidity. What better place to mock oppressive intellectual rigidity than over a heavily traveled freeway behind the fabled Orange Curtain? This county has cornered the market on locked thinking!


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >