NEW YORK, NY.-
People "Weekly," the inaugural exhibition of the CUNY Graduate Center's Amie and Tony James Gallery
, is a sequential group show comprising six specially commissioned artist projects and a small "exhibition-within-the exhibition" curated by gallery director, Linda Norden.
Daniel Joseph Martinez's new project for the James Gallery, the west bank is missing, i am not dead, am i, is the product of years of meditation on the utopian aspirations of Modernist architecture and the political after-effects so many of the most ambitious Modernist developments have on current communities and everyday life. The artist's focus is the little-known relationship between a planned suburban community in Irvine, California, and the settlement housing conceived by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for Israel's West Bank initiative. Sharon was a practicing architect before he was elected Prime Minister and that fact, along with his professed interest in the Irvine tract-homes and the more celebrated Case Study housing that inspired these, serve as source for Martinez's sculptural, topological allegory. Martinez was also inspired by the expansive window exposure of the James Gallery and, more specifically, by the graded sidewalk outside, which imposes an upward or downward procession as one walks along the building's façade and looks in and down on the gallery interior.
Martinez magnifies the uncanny but deliberate similarities in the architecture of these distant communities. Using clear vacuform to create scale-model reliefs of the respective housing blocks, he embeds these into two circular cast-aluminum tracks, transforming the models into spectacular abstract sculpture.
The resulting plastic-fantastic sculptural tracks are as scary as they are beautiful. They remind us at once that the forms inspired by Modernism's utopian values and vision retain an aura of possibility, and that the deferred future so integral to Modernism's promise has arrived. The spaceship has landed, the bombs have gone off, the market is crashing. And we are not dead, are we.