The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project:
John Baldessari

The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project:
John Baldessari

LAND — Los Angeles Nomadic Division

John Baldessari, Love and Work, 2014. Billboard, The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project. Courtesy of the artist.

September 25, 2014

The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project:
John Baldessari

September 26–October 2014

San Antonio, Texas

Panel: September 26
with René Paul Barilleaux, Zoe Crosher, and Shamim M. Momin at 6:30pm
Reception until 8:30pm

McNay Art Museum
6000 North New Braunfels
San Antonio, TX 78209

LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) presents the fifth chapter of billboards as part of The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project featuring the work of John Baldessari in San Antonio from September 26 through October. A panel will be held at the McNay Art Museum (6000 North New Braunfels Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78209) at 6:30pm followed by a reception until 8:30pm on Friday, September 26.

The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project is a series of artist-produced billboards and activations that will unfold along Interstate 10 Freeway from Florida to California through spring 2015. The project was conceived by artist Zoe Crosher and is co-curated by the artist and LAND’s Director and Curator, Shamim M. Momin. Using the concept of Manifest Destiny—America’s territorial expansion across North America—the artists will explore this problematic and layered history.

Using approximately 100 billboards total, 10 artists will create “chapter” groupings along I-10, each a unique interpretive link to the exhibition’s thematic. The billboards will move through and punctuate the landscape by tracing territorial expansion from east to west, along one of the country’s busiest freeways, concluding in Los Angeles. The billboards will be activated through various events, programs, and social media outlets for dialogue and interaction with local communities.

The project launched on October 20, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida with billboards by Los Angeles-based artist Shana Lutker titled Onward and Upward. Participating artists include John Baldessari, Sanford Biggers, Matthew Brannon, Zoe Crosher, Eve Fowler, Shana Lutker, Jeremy Shaw, Daniel R. Small, Bobbi Woods, and Mario Ybarra Jr.

John Baldessari‘s chapter of The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, titled Love and Work, employs the traditional advertising trope of repetition, as all ten of the billboards display the same image, scattered throughout the San Antonio area. Using this tactic, the image will engrain in the minds of commuters, drawing connections between the disparate locations of the billboards.

Baldessari‘s diptych image conveys the ultimate dichotomy of Manifest Destiny and the American Dream, further clarified in the series title: Love and Work. A large gear mechanism dominates the right half of the composition, depicted in grainy black and white and somewhat blurred, as if in motion. This heavy machinery alludes to the industrialism that was the foundation of American capitalist development, and the physical labor underlying the (often unattainable) goals of the historical American Dream. The gear similarly implies being a part of a larger machine—that we are each a cog in the wheel, so to speak. The artist juxtaposes the gear with an image of pure, domestic relaxation: a male figure reclines, arms akimbo, on a hammock. The vibrant yellow and purple hues superimposed like a light filter over this underlying black-and-white image suggest a bygone era, and highlight the ultimate goals of our labors: happiness and love. The reclining figure and gear maintain the same angled position, drawing a visual parallel between man and machine, leisure and industriousness—the precarious balancing act that is both America’s ambition and the source of many of its most salient problems.

This project is made possible with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works and with support from Clear Channel Outdoor, San Antonio. Special thanks to the McNay Art Museum and the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum (MCCF).

About LAND:
LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a non-profit public art organization committed to curating site- and situation-specific contemporary art projects in Los Angeles and beyond. LAND believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience innovative contemporary art in their day-to-day lives. In turn, artists deserve the opportunity to realize projects, otherwise unsupported, at unique sites in the public realm.

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LAND — Los Angeles Nomadic Division
September 25, 2014

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