"Bombay Beach has always inspired enormous creativity--films, music videos, fashion shoots; a documentary called Bombay Beach won TriBeCa in 2011.
Imperial County is the poorest in California, and this town, on some levels the most godforsaken in California, had nothing to show for all this work, which oftentimes was just stolen, with no regard to the locals--not one gallery, not one photo on a wall.
So the idea was to flip it all upside down: to get great artists, known and unknown, to come and make art specifically for the town, inspired by the strange magic and history of the place, and to honor it and its citizenry with the cultural richness it deserves.
Rather than play up the decrepitude, we thought, why not go the opposite direction, and bring philosophy, opera and ballet, respected photographers, sculptors and painters, all of whom we knew would be inspired by the uniqueness and discrete, unexpected charm of Bombay Beach.
And the name, besides its wonderful, absurd alliteration, provided an opportunity, in one fell swoop, to poke fun of the pretenses of the art world and at the same time elevate Bombay Beach to its rightful place on the world art scene.
Finally, we wanted and want to bring attention to the environmental catastrophe that is unfolding at the Salton Sea, and in so doing we hope that in a humble and creative way, we can start to solve the ecological crises here."
Tao Ruspoli (born 7 November 1975) is an Italian-American filmmaker, photographer, and musician. Born in Bangkok and raised between Rome and Los Angeles, Tao graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 with a degree in Philosophy.
Moviemaker magazine singled out Ruspoli as one of the 10 Young Filmmakers To Watch. His feature narrative debut, FIX, was one of 10 feature films to screen in competition at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival and then at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival where Ruspoli was awarded the Heineken Red Star Award for "most innovative and progressive filmmaker." Fix also won the Festival Award for Best Film at the 2008 Brooklyn Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, as well as other prizes at several international festivals.
His most well-known documentary is Being in the World, which explores the real world implications of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. His other documentaries include Just Say Know, a personal discussion of his family's drug addiction and Flamenco: A Personal Journey, a feature length documentary about the flamenco way of life as it is lived by Gypsies in the south of Spain.
In 2000, Tao founded LAFCO (The Los Angeles Filmmakers Cooperative,) a bohemian collective of filmmakers and musicians who worked out of a converted school bus. Through LAFCO, Tao produced several films and helped dozens of filmmakers to make their first films and discover the wonders of digital media.
His latest documentary, Monogamish, starring Dan Savage, Christopher Ryan and Esther Perel, premiered at The Rome Film Festival in 2015. Monogamish will be released in late 2016.
Tao is an accomplished flamenco guitar player, and his first CD, FLAMENCO, was released on Mapleshade Records in 2005.
Tao Ruspoli, Lily Johnson White and Stefan Ashkenazy co-founded the Bombay Beach Biennale in 2016.