In A MEDITATION ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ROMANTIC LOVE OR WHERE YOU GOIN’ WITH THAT GUN IN YOUR HAND, BOBBY SEALE AND HUEY NEWTON DISCUSS THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN EXPRESSIONISM AND SOCIAL REALITY PRESENT IN HITLER’S PAINTINGS, Daniel Joseph Martinez begins blending rival political and aesthetic ideologies just outside the gallery door. There hangs a photographed magazine image of John F. Kennedy being shot–a signifier of both the hope and demise of social democracy, as well as current discussions about the role of found material, photography, and sensationalism in art.
From a windowsill inside the gallery, twelve-inch tall white silhouette cut-outs of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, Black Panther revolutionaries, survey a series of white paintings. While the men eye the snowy mass, the paintings recall another political topic from the 1960s. In the same contentious decade, but in the realm of aesthetics, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Ryman, and others developed monochromatic painting partly in response to a perceived failure of Expressionism to cause a social change.
Martinez’s installation represents another mode of historic radicalism through text. Accompanying each painting is a panel that reads like the warmongering rhetoric of contemporary American politicians, yet is in fact edited passages from Mein Kampf, Hitler’s treatise on the necessity of his fight.
Through strategies of appropriation, conceptualism, painting, and photography, Martinez collides signifiers for social democracy, anarchist revolution, and fascism to draw out correspondences between systems that are fundamentally different yet founded on similar utopic goals. A MEDITATION… questions the cultural success of various political and aesthetic tropes and suggests that neither world is far removed from the other.