Exhibition explores parallel reality
Posted Sept. 15, 2006
Kelly Rivas

Observing the installation “Disillusion/Systematic/ Organization (M.O.),” Yvonne Garcia and her Core 320 class take notes for an assignment about Martin Durazo’s art. Durazo said people rely on artists and designers to make everyday objects for everyday use, so he wanted to appropriate these objects and turn them back into art.

Katherine Hillier
Editorial Director

Ninja stars sliced into the wall and gave an illusion of golden snowflakes, while a red gnome crouched near a flowerpot and tables covered with common household items were scattered everywhere. These were the imaginative sights of “Disillusion Systematic Organization (M.O.),” an exhibition by artist Martin Durazo.

Upon first glance, the Harris Gallery appeared to be full of –– well, random stuff — but later Durazo’s intention and organization became clearer. He had taken everyday objects that filled junk drawers and garage shelves and placed them in glass cabinets and on tabletops.

This presentation of ordinary objects was uncomfortable, but that was good.

“If I had to make a statement about my body of work, it is to be aware,” Durazo said. “The whole show is about going back and forth and really exercising your judgment.”

After receiving his bachelors of arts in literature from Pitzer College, Durazo went on to get his masters in fine arts from UCLA and has been exhibiting ever since from New York to Amsterdam and now in La Verne.

In one display a small statue of the Buddha sat beside a florescent yellow Pokémon. This parallel of opposites was strange and yet hilarious at the same time.

“When you first walk in it’s a little overwhelming,” said Lauren Jones, a senior liberal studies major. “It’s hard to figure out what the meaning is.”

Childish primary colors danced between flashes of pastel and gold while the implication of violence and peace were masked on the wall in the form of golden ninja stars. Everything was scattered and yet everything was arranged.

“He’s giving people the opportunity to look at things that are familiar in a brand-new way,” said Dion Johnson, the Harris Gallery director and curator of the exhibit. “I think there is a promotion of social awareness and the idea of creating scenarios or systems in which everyone can belong.”

A television, huddled in the middle of the gallery, acted as a surveillance system, displaying images of all who looked at it.

Those who walked up to shelves splashed with flowerpots found a smaller recording of themselves hiding between the leaves.

“The video made me aware of my own space within the gallery,” said Matt Breatore, a senior art history major. “I saw it as we are also being observed as an artistic piece.”

While the audience found themselves on surveillance cameras, Durazo spun heart-pumping beats through enormous concert speakers and participated in his own form of surveillance by observing his show from the sidelines.

He made eye contact with passersby and occasionally enticed them to join him in discussion. This seemed to be his personal parallel of interaction and distance.

However, Durazo was just as interested in the audience’s reaction to the art as he was in the art itself.

“My problem with a lot of art being made right now is that it’s on the wall,” Durazo said. “This whole exhibition is made to look like a mall.”
Display cases were tangled together with the framework of a concert display.

This unusual combination made viewers do a double take.
“Choosing to use objects and not make objects is a strong decision,” said Elonda Billera, a masters of fine arts student at Claremont College.

All of Durazo’s work was composed of everyday objects made artistic by their interaction and placement.

Lighting was also a major theme of the show. Each display had its own version of light. Strands of clear plastic lights dangled from a metal frame in one display while stacks of lighted squares blared in another.

Themes of death and destruction loomed throughout the show in the form of a skull and various drug references. These items sat amid youthful piggy banks and plastic flowers, furthering the idea of parallels.

“I continually try to introduce art to the La Verne community that I feel is cutting edge and relevant to what is happening right now in the art world,” Johnson said.

The exhibition was a feast for both the mind and the eyes, and it left many people pondering its meaning, making it a success.

Katherine Hillier can be reached at khillier@ulv.edu.

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