In The House Imaginary, the house is a lens through which artists explore memory, identity, and belonging in an increasingly itinerant world. The house can be a lightning rod in which social policies around immigration, homelessness, urban planning, race, and gender intersect with personal histories and fictions. After the horrors of World War II, theorist Theodor Adorno famously declared, “dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible…. The house is past.” He was claiming that personal security can no longer be considered apart from the systemic oppressions and omissions necessary to retain that security. This recognition is achingly urgent today in an era of global migrations, heightened awareness of inequalities, and San José’s own housing crisis.
This exhibition highlights the generous 2016 donation to SJMA’s collection by J. Michael Bewley, as well as works from Bewley’s personal collection. Bewley, a retired employment lawyer in San José, was committed to combatting social injustices in the workplace. Spanning nearly a hundred years of artistic production and encompassing various mediums including painting, sculpture, collage, photography, and textile, these works are united by a radical social and political motivation.
SJMA will present the US premiere of Won Ju Lim’s multimedia installation California Dreamin’ (2002), recently acquired by the Museum. Born in Gwangju, South Korea, and raised in Los Angeles, Lim created California Dreamin’ while living abroad in Germany during a period when she was intensely homesick.
SJMA is organizing the largest solo exhibition in the United States in more than a decade of the work of internationally-renowned artist Dinh Q. Lê. Highlighting the artist’s ongoing experimentations in narrative and storytelling, the exhibition features four major video and photography installations, along with a selection of rarely seen floral photo-weavings. Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey Is Return entwines unknown or rarely heard narratives of war and migration from people in North Vietnam, people of the Vietnamese diaspora, and refugees who, like Lê himself, have recently returned to Vietnam.
Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first in-depth exploration of the contemporary practice of Bengali-American artist Rina Banerjee, co-organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (where it will be on view October 26, 2018 – April 07, 2019) and SJMA. Though Banerjee’s work has been shown extensively in Europe and South Asia, PAFA and SJMA will be the first North American museums to delve into the artist’s complex and fanciful worlds. Bringing together several of Banerjee’s monumental installations in conversation with 15 to 20 of her sculptures, as well as a selection of works on paper, Make Me a Summary of the World will transform PAFA and SJMA into otherworldly and multi-sensory spaces.