Route 2: Undisclosed Destination investigates the idea of a West Coast aesthetic as both a decoy and an impresario. In a truly complex approach by a new curator, location is a curatorial device that situates, and sometimes subsumes, the work within its site-specific grasp. Though a collector’s taste may sometimes limit exhibition options, curator Sharon Lerner employs ArtNow International Foundation’s 101 Collection of West Coast art with a nimble sleight of hand to delimit the very conceit of American Westernness.
Visitors have two options for navigating the exhibition: a left route, which I’ll call Manifest Destiny, and a right route, which I’ll haphazardly dub Re-Cut Contexts. Along the journey to the left, ideas of American expansion are quickly derailed by Gareth Moore’s Map (from Uncertain Pilgrimage) (2006–2009). Unfolded and completely blank, it evokes the anticipation or dread of an uncharted journey. The road leads to the central piece: Elisheva Biernoff’s They Were Here (2009), a generically painted sixteen-foot-long mural of an island paradise with white sand beaches and waterfalls; among the hidden details are exploding volcanoes, extinct plant life, dead birds, and shipwrecks. Upon peering through the scenic vista binoculars provided at a slight distance from the mural, the entire island disappears into a stereoscopic view of the surrounding ocean. Biernoff has labeled the binoculars a “time machine,” perhaps to suggest, like Moore’s Map, the double bind of imagining both an unrealized utopia and dystopia in two future potentialities.
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