Responding to California’s increasingly high-tech sphere of society, All Exit, Brookly-based artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy engage with perspectives of the multifarious interpretations of the state’s contemporary landscapes real and imagined, built and natural in their second exhibition at Oakland’s Johansson Projects. “California,” says Johansson Projects of its exhibition, “with its nexus of computer, entertainment, and military industrial centers is seen as the conclusion, both geographically and ideologically, of the frontier fantasy of the American dream.” The McCoys utilize present-day Silicon Valley as a metaphoric trope, with all its promise of future technological advance and higher echelon of living, to delve into the historic culture of the Golden State’s Siren-like coaxing of entrepreneurs and those who hoped to be, promising free enterprise and fulfillment of Utopian dreams — its lawlessness and “Wild West” characterization, and how it still exists today within its technological political and economic spheres.
However, the exhibition title takes the meaning of these elaborate dioramas, multimedia installations, and sculpture on view to a more precarious level. Johansson Projects writes that “All Exit” is taken from internet-derived language of Silicon Valley “scions,” who write about “moving beyond California to create new, legislatively permissive, zones of privilege”; suggesting material borders are quickly evaporating into more evasive definitions and potentially limitless ones. Installations and artworks reach beyond and blend mediums of sculpture, photography, and video into one experience. Dioramas include images of California’s drought-parched yellowed lawns buttressed with dusty concrete roadways bring to the fore areas that encompass ambiguity, power, and pleasure. Fabricated landscapes of water parks to modern architecture of corporate buildings impress with power and size, but reveal nothing of its inhabitants or regional vernacular. The Mt. Rushmore-style mountain in “Priest of the Temple” that features a portrait of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore instead of America’s Founding Fathers is jumbled through technological interpretations, becoming a dizzying, hypnotic video piece that turns this bizarre landscape into an even more quixotic trip.
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, All Exit will be at Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland through January 3, 2015.