Daniel Joseph Martinez Transforms Roberts and Tilton Gallery into a Fully Immersive Environment
In the upcoming exhibition, Daniel Joseph Martinez continues to question and provoke our personal and collective identity, simultaneously deploying iconic motives related to art and history. The term exhibition is used conditionally, in order to categorize Martinez’s unique situation-creating, which is a form that his practice often takes. The immersive environment that the spectators will encounter pushes the boundaries of exhibiting, and takes on a cross-disciplinary form, which could be defined as a form of visual theater. The viewers will find that a theater is never just that, and that it spontaneously becomes a prism for examining the nature of democratic principles.
The Death of Marat and Marquis de Sade
Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat (1793) was a point of reference for Martinez. The famous portrait has already been used for making political commentary in the past, and one of the interpretations that caught Martinez’s attention was Peter Weiss’ play “Marat/Sade” from 1963. Weiss overlapped the already clear political connotation related to the murdered French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat, with the ruthlessly brutal approach associated with Marquis de Sade. The intent was to comment on the Vietnam War. Martinez was impressed by the interpretation so much, that he deployed segments of the play in his own work.
The installation consists of three life-like sculptures, which represent Martinez as Marat, his assassin Charlotte Corday, and the artist himself. These figures are made after the artist’s own body, however, certain elements suggest different characters of the story (a knife, wounds, a bathtub, a chore jacket). These elements are reminiscent of the painting, however, the scene deliberately does not involve the painting itself. Instead, the environment is shaped by a pair of aluminum bleachers, and accompanied by a set of monitors which display moving clouds and represent windows. Finally, the forth protagonist in Martinez’s installation is the virtual one – the recital of the assassin’s monologue, taken from Weiss’s play, projected throughout the exhibition. The fact that a single character plays three different roles in Martinez’s work reflects on David’s choice not to represent Corday, who committed the murder. This act reinforces exploration of one’s own personality through the identity of others. Finally, the artist challenges reality and its simulacrum, making space for doubts and questions to arise.
Another Daniel Joseph Martinez’s Exceptional Exhibition
Daniel Joseph Martinez’s exhibitions never cease to exceed our expectations, having his previous work in mind (and you still have a chance to see one of them in Paris, Wasteland – New Art from Los Angeles group exhibition). His works are executed in form of photography, painting, printed works, public interventions, and certainly one of the most interesting are his site-specific installations, which play with the theatrical and the real, and hardly fit into the category of mere exhibiting. IF YOU DRINK HEMLOCK, I SHALL DRINK IT WITH YOU or A BEAUTIFUL DEATH; player to player, pimp to pimp. (As performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade) will be on view from April 9th until May 21st, 2016, at Roberts & Tilton gallery, Culver City, CA.
Featured image: Daniel Joseph Martinez – IF YOU DRINK HEMLOCK, I SHALL DRINK IT WITH YOU or A BEAUTIFUL DEATH; player to player, pimp to pimp. (As performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade), Installation at Roberts & Tilton, April 2016. All images courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, Photography by Robert Wedemeyer.