MARY BETH HEFFERNAN
"The Soldier's Skin: An Endless Edition"
at the Pasadena City College Art Gallery
in conjunction with the 2007 Pasadena Festival of Art & Ideas
Exhibition: October 10 - November 17, 2007
Reception for the artist: Wednesday, October 10, 6 - 8 PM
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
The Soldier's Skin is a photographic series documenting freshly-etched memorial tattoos on the bodies of Marines recently returned from the Iraq war. Rather than exhibiting her photos as framed artworks, artist Mary Beth Heffernan will present what she calls an "endless edition": photolithographic posters laid in stacks on the gallery floor, with an invitation for viewers to freely take copies with them. Gallery visitors will thus be asked to claim ownership of these images, and to reflect at length on their own relationship to the network of emotions and ideas the pictures evoke.
Heffernan took her camera to the tattoo parlors adjacent to the largest Marine base in the US, the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, in the Mojave desert in southeastern California. She focuses on memorial tattoos, reminders of fallen soldiers that are embedded in the skin of living warriors who are, in most cases, about to return to the fight. The soldiers' skin reveals its vulnerability in the immediate aftermath of the tattooing process, as well as sometimes showing the literal scars of war: one marine's elaborately tattooed back is still marked with small shrapnel wounds obtained in the very attack that killed the men named in his tattoo.
While allowing for the widest range of responses and interpretations, The Soldier's Skin: An Endless Edition will challenge viewers to confront the central political crisis of our time. It will also contribute a rich and resonant dimension to the 2007 Pasadena Art & Ideas Festival, which is organized around the theme of "skin."
A catalogue of the exhibition is being published by Pasadena City College.
This exhibition and catalogue is made possible through the support of the Pasadena Art Alliance, the Durfee Foundation, Occidental College, The Pasadena City College Foundation, ARCC (Accountability Reporting for the Community Colleges), PCC Faculty Development funds and the PCC Division of Visual Arts and Media Studies.