Los Angeles

Daniel Joseph Martinez

The Project

I’ve had reservations in the past about works by Daniel Joseph Martinez; they felt like exercises in self-gratification and self-promotion ostensibly designed to push social buttons. (Think of his reputation-catapulting I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE buttons at the 1993 Whitney Biennial.) Martinez has seemed at times to be a kind of political pyromaniac, less interested inputting out fires or harnessing their energy than in fanning the flames and basking in their glow. His work in this recent show, however, an animatronic sculpture that had the gallery to itself, came as a surprise I hesitate to call pleasant. The piece is a kind of grand finale to a series of photographs Martinez has created over the past few years, in which, inspired by Nietzsche’s call to destroy idols, he presented himself destroyed, with the help of prosthetics and makeup, in a variety of manners. Here

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