Simon Preston Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition at the gallery by Daniel Joseph Martinez, The enemy of my enemy is my friend and my friend is my enemy. Did you know it snows in Los Angeles in the summer time.
For the past thirty years, Martinez has employed a complex artistic vocabulary including sculpture, text, animatronics, painting and photography, in order to address contemporary and historical socio-political realities. In attempting to expose their complicated dynamics, Martinez has constantly shifted medium, form and content, producing a unique output that is, in turn, disturbing, poetic, humorous and revelatory.
In 2009, as a USA Broad Fellow, Martinez traveled to Alaska, with the primary aim of walking and traveling the length of the oil pipeline. This ‘walk’ is depicted through postcards sent to friends and family as communiqués. The ordinary tourist postcards have had all their text subtly removed from the front side, while the artist has hand-stamped related poetry on the reverse. Each postcard is positioned in front of a shape-shifting mirror, forcing the reflections of these natural utopian landscapes to appear abstracted to the viewer. Also visible in this reflection is a text, handwritten by the artist on the opposite gallery wall, consisting of an indexical description of 31 major genocides that have taken place throughout history. The artist’s chronicling and unadorned depiction of simple facts contain the sheer emotional reality of events etched in our own history. The final element consists of a white Alaskan hare hung from the ceiling, with an exquisite imitation bomb strapped to itself. The accompanying text questions man’s ability to break from the violence of our own human nature. The cycle of destruction, as Gödel concluded, operates as a never-ending repetitive cycle.
The artist’s compulsive attempt to explore the true nature of the world is closely connected to the exploration of the unknown in science. By exploring an aesthetic language through rational thinking, in a similar mode to mathematical theorizing, the artist proposes the cyclical nature of past, present and future in human experience.
Daniel Joseph Martinez has exhibited in the United States and internationally since 1978. In September his work will be included in The Artists Museum exhibition at MOCA, in Los Angeles. In addition to the 1993 and 2008 Whitney Biennial exhibitions, he has made contributions to the San Juan Triennial in 2004, the Cairo Biennial in 2006, and the Moscow Biennial in 2007. Martinez has been teaching since 1990 at the University of California, Irvine and is currently a Professor of Theory, Practice and Mediation of Contemporary Art in the Graduate Studies Program and New Genres Department.