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.
Featured at top right: John Raymond Mireles, Toadstools Hoodoos, Utah; formerly within Escalante National Monument, 2019 / 2021. Solvent ink on cellulose paper. Courtesy of the artist. © John Raymond Mireles.