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Installation images

Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman
28 January – 29 March 2009


Project for a New American Century is a “what if” scenario that in part has its source in a little-known historical event.

During the Spanish Civil War, anti-Franco anarchists operated prisons using “psychotechnic” torture in the form of “coloured cells” based on the principles of abstract and surrealist painting. In reference to this history, the Toronto collaborative team of Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman have created an installation combining architecture, painting, and sculpture, building a monolithic prison-like enclosure in the gallery but updating it with reference to utopian brutalist architecture from the 1950s and 1960s (such as York University’s Ross Building) and op art painting. Having established a historical conjecture in the first gallery with this aggressive architectural intrusion, the artists play out the aesthetic possibilities or consequences of this proposition with a series of paintings and sculpture in the second gallery.

As they write, “The foundations are set for a scenario wherein the artists act as players in the landscapes of political radicality both past and present, while simultaneously imprisoning themselves within their own formalist devices. The socially utopian brutalist architectural scenario that oversees the installation carries within its walls the clashes and harmonies of the ideologically charged art of the twentieth century interwar period, and the hollowing ideological clashes of the culture wars that have ensued since this period. What better way to usher in this disillusioned century than to imprison us in the previous one.”

Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at] yorku.ca