FotoFest Exhibitions

Daniel Joseph Martinez


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Those who wish for peace should prepare for war!
- Old Sasquatch Proverb

She could see Russia from her house!

(In search of the Tribe Called Sasquatch,
or who really built the Alaskan Oil Pipeline)

16 – Communiqués and found photographs from traveling the length and break of Alaska during the month of August, 2009

Daniel Joseph Martinez’s approach to politics and popular culture resides in an analytic deconstruction of hierarchies along with a conflation of social and cultural histories. Martinez’s relationship to performance has always been profoundly rooted in the tradition of social protest and political action and has manifested itself in various guises and manifestations. Language and text is of primary interest to his work and reflects a pedagogical kinship with conceptual practitioners of the 1960s.

Martinez’s piece for FotoFest consists of a mail-art performance enacted while traveling the length of the pipeline. Martinez purchased tourist postcards he found throughout his route, adding phrases and text related to either the date or a particular feeling he wanted to convey. While Martinez’s project recalls the history of mail art and its most famous practitioner, On Kawara, we are reminded of its obsolescence in the face of current digital communications. The mail-art process thus becomes the perfect analog to Internet communication, which conversely is causing the slow demise of the postal system. Martinez’s aim is not so much to comment on systems of communication and their imminent death, although that is an important aspect. His aim instead centers on his suspicion of the photographic image’s ability to convey an absolute truth. By combining a photographic record with a subjective impression, Martinez’s project becomes less about a personal account than about the fallacy of such a pursuit.

For over thirty years Daniel Joseph Martinez has engaged in an investigation of social, political, and cultural mores through artworks that have been characterized as “nonlinear multidimensional propositions.” He has exhibited in the United States and internationally since 1978, most recently, The Fully Enlightened Earth Radiates Disaster Triumphant: Daniel Joseph Martinez: United States Pavilion, 10th International Cairo Biennale 2006, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2006); the 2008 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, New York; and the west bank is missing, I am not dead yet, am I?, Amie and Tony James Gallery at City University of New York (2009). Recent publications include Daniel Joseph Martinez: A Life of Disobedience (Stuttgart, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2009), including essays by Arthur C. Danto, David Levi Strauss, Michael Brenson, and Hakim Bey. Martinez has been teaching since 1990 at the University of California, Irvine, and is currently professor of theory, practice, and mediation of contemporary art in the graduate studies program and new genres department.