Michael Stock talks with production designer Patti Podesta about her work on Gregg Araki’s Nowhere (1997). She describes her career trajectory from video art and performance to production design. Nowhere was the third feature she worked on as production designer. She went on to work on many notable projects, including Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000), American Gods (Bryan Fuller & Michael Green, 2017- ), and the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at LACMA (2012-3).
Podesta describes the visual design of Nowhere as expressionist, in the sense of being an externalization of the characters’ sensibilities: a pop universe, deliberately flat, graphic and shallow, that has nothing to do with realism, or the conventional use of production design to define a character’s socio-economic class. The anti-realism created a challenge in suturing the stylized studio material with location material. Stock notes that Araki’s Los Angeles-based movies rigorously exclude all iconic L.A. sights. Podesta characterizes Araki’s use of camp as something that empowers the viewers. Instead of nihilism, she sees a progressive aspect in Araki’s creation of an L.A. where diverse characters co-exist without question.