Secrets and Lies at MCASD

Secret and Lies is an exhibition on view now at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown that discusses the implicit lie of the art object and presents work that studies this phenomena. Straddling fact and fiction, art has the agency to propel an alternative version of reality.

Ramiro Gomez. “Gladys and Teresa Cleaning during Naptime” and “Grizelda Takes a Break.” 2013 MCASD

Ramiro Gomez. “Gladys and Teresa Cleaning during Naptime” and “Grizelda Takes a Break.” 2013

Ramiro Gomez takes ads from lifestyle magazines in their pristine, socio-politically removed context. Devoid of personal narrative, these ads showcase the generic but upscale remodeling possibilities for the wealthy. Gomez paints into the found images faceless house cleaners and maids, suggestive of the anonymous and insignificant roles these individuals are perceived to play. Through the addition of the subjects, Gomez infers onto the ads the commonly overlooked everyday scenes and realities of maintaining upscale homes through lower class labor. Keeping up appearances, so to speak, is contingent upon a lifestyle that reveals gross economic gaps between the wealthy and the working class.

Josiah McElheny. The Controversy Surrounding the ‘Veronese’ Vase. 1996 MCASD

Josiah McElheny. The Controversy Surrounding the ‘Veronese’ Vase. 1996

Josiah McElheny fabricates vases and narratives inspired from art history. In “The Controversy Surrounding the ‘Veronese’ Vase (From the office of Luigi Zecchin)” McElheny creates a narrative of a math professor, Luigi Zecchin, who commissioned a glass company in 1920 to reproduce a vase depicted in a Renaissance painting by Paolo Veronese. Zecchin was committed to making the perfect three-dimensional vase and produced many variations of what that may be; these vessels  are displayed alongside the drafts, notes, and sketches that the character Zecchin “made” as studies. McElheny uses the language and archival presentation of historical artifacts, and in this manner convinces the viewer that the works displayed are authentic and original. This piece deals with the narratives in history that we are presented with, all of which are variations  and interpretations of the past with no absolute truth.

Kim Dingle. Untitled (Prisspaper with Blue Hair). 1988 MCASD

Kim Dingle. Untitled (Prisspaper with Blue Hair). 1988

The toddlers in Kim Dingle’s painting are frightened and chaotically running/falling away from an unknown threat. In the background of the painting is a collage of vintage children’s wall paper with patterns in primary opaque colors and simplistic and cute imagery. However, the subject of the wallpaper are children playing according to heteronormative gender roles, a now better understood form of oppression. The girls here, called Prisses, are depicted wearing overly girly and frilly clothes in a strong gender stereotype that reads as criticism. Painted in rough brush strokes, the figures seem to be fading or disappearing into the background,  struggling to assume their position as foreground subjects.

Alan Sekulla. Untitled Slide Sequence. 1972. MCASD

Alan Sekulla. Untitled Slide Sequence. 1972.

Alan Sekulla’s 1972  “Untitled Slide Sequence”  is a humorous series of candid documentary photographs taken of workers as they were leaving the General Dynamics Conair Division Aerospace Factory in San Diego. Sekulla was interested in the changing function and meaning of documentary photography as information technology was altering how people interacted with images and the world. Documentary photography has long been contested as inadequate, misleading,  inaccurate, or influenced by the bias of the photographer. Oftentimes the practice colors its represented reality with a sentiment or romanticism that is undeniably artistic rather than objective. Like McElheny with art history, Sekulla takes on the complications of documentary photography by sharing with viewers its process- large production and extreme selectiveness.

The work in Secret and Lies utilizes or exposes the manipulative quality of its medium to create an alternative reality, a reality that often provides an insightful and critical look at the images and manipulations presented to us in everyday contexts.

Secrets and Lies is on view March 14- June 22, 2014 at the MCASD – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown, Jacob’s Building.

Discussion 2 commenti

  1. August 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Is Ramiro Gomez’ work available as a poster? It’s engaging, important, and, oddly enough, original.

  2. August 16, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Is Ramiro Gomez’ work available as posters?

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by Esther Lee
in Focus on the American West

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