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photo of bonsai tree set against nation flag, by Daniel Joseph Martinez

2011 Past Event: Exhibit: DANIEL J. MARTINEZ, "Through the wormhole..."

Date & Time: 
Monday, April 4 to Saturday, May 14, 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Art Gallery  (PCC Campus maps and directions)
Open To: 

DANIEL JOSEPH MARTINEZ Campus residency: April 4 - 8 Exhibition: April 4 - May 14

An exhibition of new work by Daniel Joseph Martinez, including photographic prints and “text paintings” made of raw pigments and clay, will open April 4 at the Pasadena City College art gallery. Martinez is Pasadena City College’s twenty-fifth annual Artist-in-Residence.

“Through the wormhole, I can see myself as I once was a minute ago.  But what if I use the wormhole to shoot my earlier self?  He’s now dead.  So who fired the shot?” was designed by Martinez specifically for the PCC gallery.  In the gallery’s main space, he is presenting a group of 34 x 27 inch color photographic prints. Each depicts a single bonsai tree on a stand, in winter, against the blurred, abstracted background of a national flag.  Each photo was taken with a very shallow depth of focus.  The pairing of unique bonsai trees—all of which were personally trained and cared for by Martinez—with the cropped and unfocused backdrop of a flag—a different flag in every piece—activates a rich set of connotations that invite questions about the relationships between nature, aesthetics and social control.

Daniel Joseph Martinez is internationally recognized for his politically charged art. He employs diverse media to address the nature of democracy, citizenship, cultural memory and “the future of the species.” Martinez is an artist whose work “unapologetically probes uncomfortable issues of personal and collective identity, seeking out threadbare spots in the fabric of conventional wisdom,” according to critic Jeffrey Kastner. “A strategic provocateur with a keen intelligence and a wicked sense of humor, Martinez deploys the full range of available media in his practice, having used at various times (and in various combinations) text, image, sculpture, video, and performance to construct his uniquely tough-minded brand of aesthetic inquiry.”

Martinez’s work has been exhibited internationally since 1978. He was a prominent participant in the critically polarizing 1993 Whitney Biennial exhibition of American art, intervening in the museum’s operation with a piece that became one of his best known: Martinez replaced the standard museum badges that visitors are required to wear with badges that bore all or part of the phrase, "I can’t–imagine–ever wanting–to be–white."

In 2006 he officially represented the United States in the Cairo Biennial. Other international exhibitions include the 2004 San Juan Triennial, the 2005 Lima Biennial, and the 2007 Moscow Biennial. Martinez is represented by The Simon Preston Gallery in New York; in addition to numerous one-person gallery exhibitions, he recently participated in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art (2008), the Houston FotoFest Biennial (2010) and the Quebec biennial in Quebec City, Canada (2010). His room-sized 2008 installation, "redemption of the flesh, its just a little bruise; the politics of the future as urgent as the blue sky," was part of the 2010 exhibition The Artist’s Museum, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Martinez has been recognized with three National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships, a Getty Fellowship, a Pollock / Krasner fellowship, a United States Artists grant, and the 2010 Fellows of Contemporary Art Fellowship, among other awards.

A graduate of California Institute of the Arts, he is a Professor of Theory, Practice, and Mediation of Contemporary Art at the University of California, Irvine.  He lives and works in the Crenshaw district in South Los Angeles.

A substantial book devoted to his career, Daniel Joseph Martinez: A Life of Disobedience, was published in 2009 by Hatje Cantz.


Pasadena City College launched an ambitious program in 1987 that brings prominent artists for a weeklong stay on campus, where the artists interact closely with students, faculty, and the larger campus community. In addition to his exhibition in the PCC Gallery, Daniel Joseph Martinez will spend the week of April 4 through 8 on campus, during which time he will present a public lecture and work closely with a group of PCC art students.

Through this program, PCC has hosted celebrated artists such as painters Masami Teraoka and Wayne Thiebaud; installation artist Alexis Smith; quilt maker Faith Ringgold; eco-political art collective Futurefarmers; illustrator and “futurist” Syd Mead; painter and comics artist Gary Panter and photographer William Wegman. Each artist also donated works of art to the college, which are displayed in the Shatford Library and Boone Sculpture Garden.

Brian Tucker, Gallery Director
Phone: 626-585-7238
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