B Side, at Waterloo Arts
In October, Chicago-based artist Martinez E-B returns to his hometown with a one-person show at Waterloo Arts. “B Side,” is a multi-media exhibition featuring video, sound, painting, drawing, and found and altered objects. The artist’s primary material, however, is himself, or rather his own experience of inhabiting a world of normative “whiteness.”
“Soul Sway” is the name Martinez E-B gives to the entity manifesting his internal dialogue. Through recorded audio we, the listener, hear “Soul Sway.” It does not address us, but rather vocalizes the dialogue the speaker is having with himself. This act of naming and externalizing the interior self provides the distance that allows for a raw and unfiltered honesty. Martinez E-B doesn’t shape his language to address a listener, his work stands rather, as proof of life, evidence of the underpinnings of a perpetually negotiated reality. As exposed here, it is a reality scripted by whiteness and which gas-lights its members around issues having to do with power, class, gender, and most definitely race. It is a culture fraught with the effects of cognitive dissonance. The objects that transmit this script: children’s toys, and media produced images, are reframed by the artist, making more evident the messages they carry as “Soul Sway” provides a window into an interior life that must navigate this world.
Martinez E-B’s work stands in potent contrast to the landscape of contemporary culture. Current public discourse is, at every level, dominated by pretense and coded speech – doublespeak. Nothing and no one is to be trusted. Every public utterance is held suspect, necessarily interrogated in attempts to unmask strategies of manipulation. The default condition is a cynically constructed public discourse that only the most naïve fail to understand as encrypted.
In asserting a voice that privileges a lived experience and that does not conform to the dominate culture, Martinez E-B actively rejects coding that not only reinforces that dominant culture but also erases other voices. In the process he reveals that this coded language is neither natural nor “common sense.” He provides us with an unflinching account of life in our contemporary Potemkin world. The work is not configured to elicit some response or reveal some “Truth.” It is a lived truth presented without expectation or concern for its receipt. The work’s value, its power extends from this. It is a remarkable feat to strip an interior self so bare, to become so vulnerable. It is a uniquely charged offering. It is an act of incredible generosity and courage that not many artists would be capable of providing.
Martinez E-B: B Side
October 5 – November 16
Opening reception 6 – 9 pm October 5
Waterloo Arts Gallery
15605 Waterloo Rd
Cleveland, OH 44110