Houseguest is a series of exhibitions at the Hammer Museum that invites artists to curate an exhibition based on the Museum’s and UCLA’s diverse collections. For this exhibition, entitled Imitation of Christ, Los Angeles-based artist William E. Jones was inspired by a photograph of a wounded guerrilla fighter taken by Pedro Meyer in Nicaragua in the early 1980s. The selection of works is loosely based upon aspects of this powerful and disturbing photograph; among them are the nudity and concealment of the subject’s body, its status as a document of the trauma of war, and the notion that its subject has made a sacrifice for a higher purpose. The exhibition also asks two separate questions—How is it possible to make an image of revolution? How is it possible to make a religious image?—and suggests that they have profound connections. Imitation of Christ encompasses a diverse range of objects, including Renaissance and Baroque prints and drawings, documentary photographs, Latin American art, and rare books. The exhibition draws from the collection of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum and from the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections. The Houseguest series is organized by curator Allegra Pesenti.
William E. Jones, born in Ohio in 1962, is an artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1985, he went on to complete his MFA in 1990 at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. His subtle and often deeply researched films, videos, installations, and writings have covered a wide range of topics including gay subcultures, the production and counterfeiting of currency, and the materiality of film and photography as mediums. These projects have been the focus of solo exhibitions at The Modern Institute, Glasgow, Scotland; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; White Cube, London; and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. His films have received retrospectives at Tate Modern, London (2005), Anthology Film Archives, New York (2010), and the Austrian Film Museum, Vienna (2011). Important group exhibitions include the 1993 and 2008 Whitney Biennials, the Nordic Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, and the 12th Istanbul Biennial in 2011. In addition, Jones has also published numerous artists’ books, including Tearoom (2008), Heliogabalus (2009), Killed: Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration (2010), and Halsted Plays Himself (2011).