Daniel Joseph Martinez, Divine Violence, 2007, installation view, The Project, New York, automotive paint on wood panel, dimensions variable.
In the recent issue of Art Practical, Ellen Tani reviews the recent panel “Free Your Mind! Improvising Post-Multicultural Art,” which took place at Stanford University on May 6. The panel featured two curators from the infamous 1993 Whitney Biennial, Elisabeth Sussman and Connie Wolf, as well as artists Daniel J. Martinez and Kori Newkirk. The panel discussed the ‘93 Biennial as a landmark exhibition, bringing major cultural issues to the forefront. Martinez was on hand to discuss his perspective as a participating artist in the Biennial as well as an educator teaching to a new generation of artists.
The strategy of going “head-first rather than image-first,” as Martinez phrased it, was learned from the major conceptual artists (Douglas Huebler, John Baldessari, Michael Asher) who began teaching at art schools in the 1970s. If the panel exposed a new provocative concern, it was a call for a more critical connection between Conceptual art and identity politics. Martinez’s 1993 Biennial piece illustrates the productive potential of this synthesis. Breaking up the controversial sentence, “I can’t imagine ever wanting to be white,” into phrases (I can’t, Imagine, Ever wanting, To be,White), he printed one phrase, and occasionally the full sentence, onto each of the tags given to visitors upon their entrance to the museum—which, it’s important to emphasize, they paid for. Martinez’s piece employed the visitors as its medium, using structural linguistics to address discrimination, ethnic identity, and the imaginary. The visitors’ unknowing engagement became a collective, coerced performance of admission, in the confessional sense.
To read the whole review, click here.