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Daniel J. Martinez


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Daniel J. Martinez
(b. Los Angeles, USA, 1957).

For the past two decades this Los Angeles born cross media artist has engaged in artistic and social practices derived from radical aesthetic discourse, public interventions, identity conscious politics and his progressive social awareness.
He is often noted as the standout at the 1993 Whitney Biennial where his entry figured prominently in the "cultural wars" of the nineties. Martinez’s work, particularly his interventions, interrogates assumptions of public and personal space and cultural hierarchy through audience participation and confrontation.

His newest series of photographic works and animatronic sculptures created in the exact likeness of the artist, explore ideas of cloning, simulacra, reality and its virtual, artificial and subjective manifestations, as well as the dynamics between technological and human development. These newest works, done in collaboration with the Hollywood special effects duo of Bari Dreiband-Burman and Tom Burman share a wide number of compelling references, amongst them the following: religious iconography, scientific photography, medical records, criminal records; the literary, the historical, the metaphysical.

Influenced by the theaters of the absurd, panic, and cruelty, Martinez's sculpture employs elements of the stage and stagecraft such as the spectacle of pain and catharsis to fabricate truth. Meaning shifts and slips away as the viewer oscillates between cerebral knowledge and visceral response. Simulated violence, futility, and spectacle are poised in a precarious balance between the levity of absurd entertainment and the gravity of serious social reflection. Past solo exhibitions include: "coyote, quiero a méxico y méxico me quiere" at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico (2001), "God Made Me Do It," Orchard Gallery, Derry, Ireland (2000), "The Killer in Me, Is the Killer in You," Track 16, Santa Monica, CA (1998), "What Makes a Queen Apologize (How to Start Your Own Country)," Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand (1996). Group exhibitions include: LACMAlab: "Seeing," Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2001), "Made in California, 1900-2000," Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2000), "East of the River," Santa Monica Museum of Art (2000), "COLA Exhibition" at the UCLA Hammer Museum (2000). Daniel has taught at the University of California, Irvine since 1992. Smart Art Press published Daniel's first monograph, The Things You See When You Don't Have A Grenade!

Curator Bill Kelley Jr. sat down with the artist on a few occasions in Los Angeles to discuss any number of topics related to his role as teacher and mentor, the role of art in developing radical thought, and his previous, highly publicized work.

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