John Divola: As Far As I Could Get
On View September 3 – December 22, 2013
Opening Reception on Saturday, September 7, 2013, 5 – 7 p.m.
This exhibition is a collaborative project led by Santa Barbara Museum of Art and shown simultaneously at SBMA, LACMA, and the Pomona College Museum of Art
Artist Talk with John Divola on Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m. at the Pomona College Museum of Art, South Gallery
Collaborative Exhibition Represents Photographer's First Career-Spanning Presentation
With a career comprising four decades, John Divola is as distinctive for his commitment to the photographic community as for his thought-provoking work. Divola's influence within the field of photography is widely recognized by curators, critics, scholars and photographers throughout the country; yet, his work has remained largely uncelebrated. Many of his former students have achieved illustrious careers and far more recognition, even as Divola continues to mentor and inspire both undergraduate and graduate students in contemporary art practice.
As Far as I Could Get is the first over-arching presentation of Divola's work and is a collaborative project led by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), shown simultaneously at SBMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA) in the fall of 2013. Though Divola's photographic series are diverse in subject matter, this approach as one exhibition among three Southern California venues emphasizes the consistent conceptual and performative threads that run through Divola's entire body of work.
Divola was born in Los Angeles in 1949. After graduating with a BA from California State University, Northridge, he entered the MFA program at the University of California Los Angeles. There, under the tutelage of Robert Heineken, the artist began to develop his own unique photographic practice, one that merges photography, painting, and conceptual art. In addition to his own studio practice, he teaches contemporary art in the underserved California inland empire and writes on current photographic practice for a national audience.
John Divola's photographs range widely but the intellectual rigor from which they spring is unvarying. Whether testing the visual limits of photography by vandalizing abandoned houses, interrogating the iconography of the divine through paint, flour, and film, or emphasizing the distance between image and reality through the blurred figure of a running dog, Divola's work is simultaneously fun and philosophical, visually appealing as well as intellectually stimulating.
Pomona College Museum of Art
On view: Selections from the Zuma series, representing 15 works
In the early mornings and late evenings throughout 1977 and 1978, John Divola repeatedly photographed the gradual destruction of an abandoned house on Zuma beach in Malibu, California. Exposed to the sun and wind, the property was also altered by human intervention, including fire-fighting practice, graffiti of local vandals, and Divola's own improvised mark-making. In the aptly-named Zuma series, the photographer framed this transformative interior against the steady horizon.
Divola notes, “These photographs are the product of my involvement with an evolving situation. The house evolving in a primarily linear way toward its ultimate disintegration, the ocean and light evolving and changing in a cyclical and regenerative manner. My acts, my painting, my photographing, my considering, are part of, not separate from, this process of evolution and change."
The exhibition catalogue showcases John Divola's overarching themes and is the first publication to examine the artist's entire career, placing the photographer within a broader historical context. Ten major bodies of work are shown in-depth-cross referencing works in the three venue's checklists but expanded where needed to give the reader a clear understanding of his career. Included are essays by Britt Salvesen (Curator, the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Prints and Drawings Department, LACMA) on existentialism and nature of reality, Kathleen Howe (Director, Pomona College Museum of Art) on the natural and built environments, Karen Sinsheimer (Curator of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art) on performative aspects and indexicality, and an interview/ conversation between Divola and Simon Baker (Senior Curator of Photography, The Tate Modern, London), providing an overview of Divola's career and his pioneering art practice within a broader context, and will highlight specific conceptual themes, influences and philosophies that permeate Divola's artistic investigations.