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Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present I want to go to Detroit; cheerleaders CHEER, an exhibition of photographs by Los Angeles-based artist Daniel Joseph Martinez. The exhibition will open to the public on 12 September and run until 28 October, 2012.


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. For the first time in New York, Martinez will exhibit the two bodies of work he produced in 1978/79, each documenting the artists’ investigations of bodybuilding and beauty pageant culture during a critical period of Southern California history.

The thirteen Body Builder images – collectively entitled I used to eat lemon meringue pie till I overloaded my pancreas with sugar and passed out; It seemed to be a natural response to a society of abundance – are vertical, black-and-white photographs of male bodybuilders, each one a single confrontational portrait with the figure standing in the middle of the frame against a white backdrop. Each man flexes for the camera, hoping for the best shot to display his hard-earned physique. Likewise, the fifteen horizontal Beauty Pageant photos, named as a series I always wanted the ears of Buddha, the will of Nietzsche and the body of Mishima, are also portraits of women participating in an equivalent type of gendered competition of physical attributes. In contrast to the antagonism of the body builders, the candid pageant shots reveal vulnerable back-stage moments, the divergence raising questions of gender archetypes and social order.


Martinez uses methods of representation and the formal production of documentary photography to critique the way images participate in the construction of a certain kind of reality. In addition to a prescient quality in depicting this extreme human behavior, the images perch precariously on a trajectory borne from Darwin’s notions of evolution and pointing towards the now common use of technology for the manipulation of the body in both form and image.

This exhibition was originally conceived and exhibited as part of PST, Pacific Standard Time at LA>< ART in Los Angeles in February this year, sponsored by The Getty Museum.

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 Agitated Histories, an exhibition at SITE Sante Fe; Pacific Standard Time at LA>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.

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