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Daniel Joseph Martinez

Michael Asher, John Baldessari, and Robert Cummings, Daniel Joseph Martinez gained national

prominence in 1993, when he produced works for the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale,

two projects at Cornell University, and the city-wide Chicago public-art project “Culture in

Action,” which was curated by Mary Jane Jacobs. Martinez says, “That year became a type

of model for working, inside and outside of traditional spaces, with and against the canonical

vocabulary, while allowing for the simultaneity of radical politics, in terms of content, and radical

The practice Martinez describes is best exemplified by the 1993 work Museum Tags:

Second Movement (Overture) or, Overture con Claque (Overture with Hired Audience Members),

which involved the use of the Whitney Museum’s tags to proclaim, “I Can’t Imagine Ever Wanting

to be White.” Such an action automatically implicates the audience, turning them into performers

whose participation is essential to-even demanded by-the piece. The artist continues to be

fascinated by the power of language to manipulate, as illustrated by the ongoing project “Divine

Violence”2 (2003-). In the 2007 installation of this work, the “ever-growing rhizome of political

terror”3 is collected and hand-recorded on gold-painted panels that name “the groups in the world

currently attempting to enforce politics through violence.”4 Reminiscent of crypt faceplates and

historic plaques, the 128 individually rendered panels are evenly spaced in a grid formation,

and represent the battlegrounds that result from tension caused by language and its various

interpretations. “Divine Violence” also questions the justification of violence “in the name of” a

cause or a person, and the way words are employed to perpetrate and excuse violent acts.