Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present the second of two consecutive exhibitions by Daniel Joseph Martinez, comprised of four large-scale recent photographic works and a sculptural sound installation. The preceding exhibition of body builder and beauty pageant images from 1978/79 served to underscore the artist’s longstanding and anarchic investigations, utilizing the body as political and social efficacy.
For this exhibition, A story for tomorrow in 4 chapters, Dostoevsky loved the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Muhammad Ali and Dandelions, Lick my hunch! (2010-12) is presented as an installation consisting of four photographs, each seven feet high by five feet wide. Shown leaning against the walls of the gallery, the images unfold as one-dimension of all four sides of a single figure in space. One photograph shows the back of a remorseful hunchback wearing a Pope’s mitre and a penitent’s rope belt. Seen from the front in another image, this figure reveals a huge deformed face, courtesy of a vintage papier-mâché mask. Tattooed on his chest and arms are blasphemous inscriptions in Hebrew, Arabic and Latin each invoking the power of their Gods. Two more photographs show the figure genuflecting on an Afghan rug made during the Afghan-Soviet war and woven with images of battle.
For over thirty years Martinez has made indelible and incisive critiques of the cultural and political orders, incorporating a flexible array of media including photography, text, sculpture, installation, performance and public art. A preoccupation with unmasking racial and sectarian stereotypes in order to deconstruct and destabilize widespread cultural assumptions runs parallel in his conceptual practice with an investigation of identitary representation in all its forms—from language and its associations with hegemony and power, to the systems of punishment and control performed upon the physical body.
In this instance, Martinez’ penitent has found himself culpable. His body is literally wrecked by guilt into deformity and becomes the field upon which theological arguments battle.
Daniel Joseph Martinez (b. 1957) has exhibited in the United States and internationally since 1978. He was recently included in Print/Out at The Museum Of Modern Art, New York in March 2012. Other recent shows include Roberts and Tilton, Los Angeles; Agitated Histories, an exhibition at SITE Sante Fe; Pacific Standard Time at LAXART; and True North, a group exhibition at the Anchorage Museum, Alaska. Martinez also participated in the groundbreaking 1993 Whitney Biennial and again in the 2008 Whitney Biennial; the 12th Istanbul Biennial, 2011; the 2008 California Biennial; the 2005 Lima Biennial; the 2007 Moscow Biennial; the 10th Cairo Biennial, 2006 and the 1993 Venice Biennale.
Martinez is professor of theory, practice, and mediation of contemporary art at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches in the Graduate Studies Program and the New Genres Department. A monograph on his work, entitled A Life of Disobedience, was published in 2009 by the German publisher Hatje Cantz.