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“Secrets and Lies”: Exhibition Explores Disguise, Ruse and Revelation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego

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Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego

“Secrets and Lies” : exhibition drawn from the museum’s collection, On view through June 22nd

Review by Cathy Breslaw

Secrets and Lies is an exhibition drawn from the museum’s collection, including several new acquisitions. Centered around concepts of disguise, ruse and revelations, the show includes painting, photography, sculpture and installation. The show’s title is taken from Belgian painter Ellen De Meutter’s painting of the same name. Her painting of two gossiping figures, hints at the questions of what is public or private, and what is fact or fiction. Yasumasa Morimura’s “An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo”(2001), is one of a series that took the artist ten years to create. A self portrait that is digitally manipulated, the photo appears like a painting. Morimura reconstructs Kahlo’s image with costumes and props, and questions gender, cultural and racial conventions. Al Wei Wei’s “Marble Chair”(2010), is a sculptural installation carved from a single piece of striated white marble. It is sculpted into the design of two traditional yoke-backed Ming and Qing Dynasty chairs. Wei Wei examines China’s loss of culture as it attempts to modernize itself. Cindy Sherman’s photograph, “Untitled”(2000), transforms her own image into a southern California typecast young woman who is tanned, blond, in sporty clothing, wearing a jeweled tiara referencing the “impossible ideal” found in airbrushed figures in magazines. Kim Dingle’s painting “Untitled(Prisspaper with Blue Hair”(1998), is an oil on wallpaper on wood, depicting toddlers running amok in the nursery, examining stereotypes of childhood and innocence. Tina Barney’s “Jill and Polly in the Bathroom”(1987), an Ektacolor Plus print, recalls Dutch genre painting while it is depicting the domestic habits of upper middle class women, questioning whether they are posing or acting. Larry Sultan’s Chronogenic print “Tasha’s Third Film”(2002), is part of a series Sultan did related to the culture surrounding the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley revealing a ‘porn’ star in an ordinary pose sitting around in curlers, hanging out in the living room waiting to perform. The ‘white cube’ in the center of the gallery features works by Allan Sekula, photographer, filmmaker and critic whose work focused on social and political realities of labor, protest movements, and global trade. Sekula’s “Untitled Slide Sequence”(1972) reveal 25 photographs of workers leaving the General Dynamics Convair Division Aerospace Factory in San Diego at the end of a day. His photographs incorporate a sense of the culture and historical moment of the military-industrial complex.   These and many other artists’ works comprise this thought provoking and complex exhibition.

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