Seminal Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition by Daniel Ruanova, titled DEFEND:SECURITY / Constructs of a People Fearing Society, comprised of a single, monumental steel sculpture installed in the Main Gallery, accompanied by a mural-size painting in the Projects Space. This is Daniel Ruanova's debut solo exhibition at Seminal Projects, which will be on view from February 14 through March 21, 2009. An artist's reception will be held on Friday, February 13, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Based in Tijuana, Mexico, Daniel Ruanova is at the forefront of an important, new generation of younger Mexican artists. Most recently, his work has appeared in Proyecto Civico/Civic Project (curated by Ruth Estevez and Lucia Sanroman) at Centro Cultural Tijuana/El Cubo; Political Mutante Politico at Arcuate Arte Contemporaneo in Monterrey, Mexico; Strange New World: Art and Design from Tijuana at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; War as a Way of Life at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA; and, Viva Mexico!/Long Live Mexico! at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, Poland.
Violence has long been part of our way of life and, by many accounts, is one of the most obvious attributes of contemporary American life. Daniel Ruanova’s new installation, DEFEND:SECURITY—Constructs Of A People Fearing Society, speaks to a growing sense of insecurity—the constant threat and fear of violence, a state of continual crisis—and the idea that violence in the 21st century has permeated our individual lives, psyche and everyday world to such a degree that it shapes not only the way we live but may even define who we are. It has become a part of the status quo, an integral—albeit, subversive—characteristic and component of our normal way of life. Tragically, it has also come to define the Mexican-American border experience, one of the world's most trafficked international boundaries that is at the center of the global debate on immigration, free trade, human smuggling, drug-trafficking, and cultural integration.
Daniel Ruanova's past works and installations have addressed this experience through different forms of "fictionalized" violence (children's toys, video games, comic books), presented in ironic and often humorous, colorful pop assemblages of plastic guns, tanks, and toy soldiers, as well as densely layered paintings whose hyper-graphic compositions suggest our fascination with war and destruction. DEFEND:SECURITY—Constructs Of A People Fearing Society offers an entirely different proposition and critique. It catapults beyond the fantasies and games of the virtual/telegenic/entertainment mediums in order to confront the sobering reality of our desensitization to violence as a whole: aggression and hostility characterized by cynicism and hypocrisy, and a political and moral laissez-faire that result in apathy, discrimination, and outright violence, transforming human beings into victims, potential victims and perpetrators.
In this respect, the forms and conceptual framework that Ruanova engages in his newest works are built upon the linguistic and rhetorical ruins of fear and violence. The same language that is routinely co-opted and cleverly exploited of its potential and credibility—enigmatic words and phrases, such as DEFENSE, SECURITY, BE SAFE—classic signifiers and affirmations in the American tradition/myth of freedom and democracy, is reclaimed by Ruanova as the central leitmotif in his paintings. Yet, these canvases present a different kind of façade: a painting-as billboard-as armor, whose vibrant colors the artist shields from view under a camouflage of steel shrapnel-like casings. The counterpoint to Ruanova's ‘full metal jacket’ painting, SECURITY, is his armor-piercing sculpture, DEFEND. Like SECURITY, DEFEND invades and occupies space with a ferocious power and impenetrable posture. It is both an explosion and an implosion—a geometry of chaos, which, taking the form of a monstrous, multi-spiked barricade (or bomb frozen in mid-detonation) is a metaphor for the destructive forces and the institutionalized violence that converge under pretense of law or tacit consensus—that pits law and order against anarchy and revolution.