SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The exhibition On the Road takes its title from the legendary book by American poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, which describes the author's adventurous road trip across the United States in the late 1940s. The exhibition investigates the myth of the American road trip as it started to develop from the early 1920s onwards due to the immense expansions of highways and roads, particularly in the West of the country. On the Road explores the fascination that artists, especially in the Southwest, have had for a culture that emerged in between highways, gas stations, diners, and motels and examines how much they influence a particular iconography.
On the Road consists of two interrelated parts: Part one presents the practices of artists known for their images related to the exploration of the West via automobile. These are classic examples of works made in response to the emergence of a culture increasingly dependent on cars. The second part is the result of an actual, two-week long, road trip undertaken prior to the exhibition opening. The curator will explore the region between Mexico and the states of Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. During the trip, a large number of artists and museums will be visited and artworks as well as artifacts will be collected for the exhibition. The curator's road trip and his research will function as a path through the exhibition. Found objects and materials will be presented alongside the works of art and a number of diary entries by the curator describing his experiences on the road. A series of quotes taken from classic road trip novels and books such as Simone de Beauvoir's America Day by Day, John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America and William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways will be displayed on the gallery walls as vinyl texts. As an extension of the exhibition a series of films depicting the history of the Southwest and movies about road trips will be presented.
More than looking at the idea of the road trip from a nostalgic point of view, On the Road explores the idea of the road trip as a rite of passage, a journey towards liberation and emancipation on the way to a destination that is largely unknown but that holds the promise of freedom and self-discovery.
On the Road is curated by Jens Hoffmann, Director, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art.