Colin Westerbeck for 'Art in America' Writes about John Divola: As Far as I Could Get

"Depicting Dislocation," by Colin Westerbeck, Art in America

During the Fall of 2013, John Divola received an extraordinary amount of attention in Southern California, where exhibitions were held simultaneously at three venues - the Pomona College Museum of Art in Claremont, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Divola rejects the term, "retrospective" when speaking about these exhibitions, and, as will become clear a bit later, I think he's right to do so. Nonetheless, the single title for all three exhibitions, "John Divola: As Far As I Could Get," indicated that the organizers intended their efforts as a collaborative overview of Divola's whole career. Santa Barbara provided the impetus for the project when it planned its own ambitious show and then joined forces with LACMA and Pomona. Santa Barbara's installation ranged from Divola's early series "Vandalism" (1973-75) to the most recent, "Theodore Street" (2013-ongoing), and therefore came closest to a comprehensive survey of his career. But the four projects chosen for LACMA - "20 x 24 Polaroids" (1987-89), "Seven Songbirds and a Rabbit" (1995), "As Far As I Could Get" (1996-2013) and "Artificial Nature" (2002) - also formed a coherent group; and while Pomona had only a single series, "Zuma" (1977-78), it was an essential one.