How many billboards?
Daniel Joseph Martinez
Photo by Gerard Smulevich

Daniel Joseph Martinez

Traversing media and disciplinary boundaries for over 30 years, the artwork of Daniel Joseph Martinez has relentlessly insisted on the potential of art to agitate for political consciousness and action. Revisiting and remixing methodological conventions, his work proposes self-contradictory intellectual hybrids, resulting in the counter-dogmatic attitude characteristic of his diverse aesthetic oeuvre. In Martinez's billboard collage, a military aircraft carrier turned sideways is in danger of pouring the fleet of Chinook helicopters on its bow into the ocean. Considered the workhorses of the U.S. Army, here the aircrafts are painted red, symbolizing that they have been repurposed for environmentalist activities. This military/environmentalist amalgam is corroborated by the rainbow design painted on the ship's side, which recalls Greenpeace's schooner the Rainbow Warrior. Fernando Pereira, the ship's photographer, tragically died when Greenpeace's original Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk at Auckland's Marsden Wharf in 1985 by agents of the French government. Despite the fact that the agents pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and willful damage, they were released in less than two years. With this referent in mind, the collage is inconclusive. Conflating the military with militant, it debates morality, authority, and justice. The image is offset by a text that reads: "The disappointment of a fanatical searcher of the truth, who saw through trickery of an authoritarian world filled with illusions." The various images, in their relation to the words, provoke a matrix of possible meanings. "Truth," this work demonstrates, may mean a different thing for Greenpeace, the French government, or for New Zealand justice, where the French agents were tried. With "disappointment" signaling that justice is nothing but blind, it also brings to mind the recent arrests and criminalization of peaceful protestors in Copenhagen during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
By Nizan Shaked

LOCATION: Washington Blvd, west of Curson Ave, on the north side of the street, facing east.
METRO: Washington Blvd. Metro Bus 035, 335
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Daniel Joseph Martinez (b. 1957)
Over the thirty years of his art practice, Daniel Joseph Martinez has investigated social, political, and cultural mores using a complex artistic vocabulary of text, sculpture, installation, painting, video, and photography. His work seeks to address historical and current geopolitical realities, exposing their complicated dynamics and destabilizing them in myriad ways. Martinez has exhibited in the United States and internationally since 1978, including the 1993 and 2008 Whitney Biennials. He had a one-person exhibition at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico (2001) and in 2006 he represented the United States at the 10th Cairo International Biennale (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). Hatje Cantz recently produced the monograph Daniel Joseph Martinez: A Life of Disobedience. Martinez teaches at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been a professor of theory, practice, and mediation of contemporary art since 1990.
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