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Disestablishment: John Raymond Mireles

  • WHEN Ongoing from now until January 30, 2022[days & times]
  • WHERE San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, San Diego
    Map | Website
  • AGES Not available
  • COST Free

'Public destruction events' at the museum steps:
Thursday, Sept. 16 from 2-5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 17 from 2-5 p.m.

From the museum:
Be part of the Disestablishment: John Raymond Mireles exhibition as it overturns the traditional museum experience by inviting the public to destroy photographs of remote landscapes that have recently had their US National Monument status revoked and been opened to drilling and mining. Large-scale photographs by local San Diego artist John Raymond Mireles are now on view at the Museum showcasing the remote beauty of these sites, then on September 16 and 17, Mireles invites the public to help mark and destroy the works. The photographs will then be rehung in their tattered form. The destruction of the images question complicity by mimicking the fate that awaits the scenic sites.

The public destruction events on September 16 and 17, held on the Museum steps, will invite the public to use pens and tools to mark, scratch, and rip into the works.

Signed waiver required to participate. Must be 12 years or older and minors must be accompanied by an adult.

Virtual artist talk: Friday, Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. Register here.

About the exhibition:
When the federal government slashed several National Monuments in 2017 down to just fractions of their prior size to make way for drilling and mining, local artist John Raymond Mireles traveled to Escalante-Grand Staircase and Bears Ears in southern Utah to document what remains, and what was once protected.

"Disestablishment," a new exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art, is a collection of photographs from these newly unprotected lands, before the damage sets in. But Mireles won't stop there. The exhibition runs until the end of January, but in mid-September, the museum will host several "public destruction events." Visitors will be invited to cut, hammer on, tear, walk on and otherwise physically, permanently damage the art. The altered works will be then rehung on the wall.

It's a way of making the future destruction of these pristine lands more tangible and visceral, and implicating the viewer along the way.

Bonus: these works will be on view in the free galleries that are adjacent to Panama 66, and don't require museum admission. Further bonus: I love to see SDMA spotlighting local, living artists.

Details: Exhibition information. "Disestablishment" opens at SDMA Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 and runs through Jan. 30, 2022. Two "Public Destruction Events" will be held Sept. 16 and 17. Free.
--Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS

From the organizer:
August 7, 2021–January 30, 2022

Disestablishment overturns the traditional and expected museum experience. Local San Diego artist John Raymond Mireles shares photographs of remote and staggeringly beautiful sites that have recently had their US National Monument status revoked, opening the sites for mining and drilling, and invites the public to take part in destroying images of these landscapes.

In 1996, Escalante-Grand Staircase and Bears Ears were designated as National Monuments to protect the especially wild and scenic regions of Southern Utah, an area so remote that it was the last in the United States to be mapped. In order to allow private companies to extract the oil and coal deposits that exist in the area, in 2017, the Federal government drastically reduced Escalante and cut it into three smaller sections. Bears Ears was shrunk to a fraction of its former size. The unprotected landscapes are now open for oil drilling and coal mining—high-impact activities that will forever damage the virgin landscapes and archeologically rich terrain of the region.

John Raymond Mireles traveled to Southern Utah in 2019 to photograph lands that had previously been protected but have since been opened to drilling and mining. For this exhibition, he has printed his work on an immersive scale using solvent ink on cellulose paper.

In order to create a visceral understanding about the potential damage that awaits these environments, during the course of the exhibition the artist will remove the prints from the wall and invite visitors to physically damage the works. Participants are encouraged to hammer on, cut away, stomp on, tear, and tag these prints. The destruction is an integral part of the exhibition, with public responses filmed and included in the re-installation of the altered works. These actions question complicity by mimicking the fate that awaits these areas.

Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer's website for the most updated schedule before attending. Check local COVID-19 restrictions and updates.

Photo of John Raymond Mireles' photography work from Esca...

Above: Photo of John Raymond Mireles' photography work from Escalantes, Utah, in a stage of destruction, courtesy of San Diego Museum of Art.

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