John Divola (b. 1949), Abandoned Painting C, 2007. Inkjet print, 44 × 54 in. (111.8x 137.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Maccarone Gallery, New York and Los Angeles, and Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA
Christopher Lew: John Divola’s been long known for making these photographs where he’s entering into abandoned spaces, and taking pictures of these derelict sites. For this particular series that we’re showing called The Abandoned Paintings, he’s gone into these homes in Twenty-nine Palms, and he’s actually hung artworks that he had found at the school where he teaches, at UC Riverside.
Narrator: Christopher Lew and Mia Locks are the curators of the 2017 Biennial.
Mia Locks: There was something really sincerely generous about this idea of taking this group of paintings that he found, effectively left in a dumpster, and sort of reframing them.
Christopher Lew: It almost reads as a painting that is left behind by the former occupants of the home. But then it also ties to the aspirations of these student artists, and it makes you wonder where these people have gone on, or why someone would leave an artwork behind.
One of the powerful things that we found with John’s work is that it echoes some of the issues that we’ve been reading in the headlines, in terms of the mortgage crisis, and housing, and how people are being forced to leave their homes. It’s unclear from these images exactly why they’re abandoned, but it evokes the sensibility and the kind of precariousness that we’re finding right now.