RANSOM: AN ART INSTALLATION BY LEWIS DE SOTO
Lewis deSoto’s exhibition project, Ransom, utilizes the Mesoamerican collection at the Palm Springs Art Museum, commissioned videos, and historical sculptural elements to create a multi-nuanced environment that presents the dynamic relationship between victor and vanquished.
On view concurrently with Comic Art Indigène, another exhibition addressing indigenous cultural themes, the project references Hernando de Soto’s defeat of the Incan empire in Peru under Francisco Pizarro’s command.Located in the Video Projects Room, the James & Jackie Lee Houston Atrium on the main level, and the Marilyn & Bruce Throckmorton Gallery on the mezzanine level, deSoto’s exhibition project begins with a conceptual gateway of gold and silver leaf that juxtaposes Peruvian vessels from before and after the encounter between Europeans and native peoples of the Americas. Working closely with the Education Department, he has created a video featuring Coachella Valley teens and young people as the “actors” in a reading of texts originally presented to the indigenous peoples of the Americas by Spanish conquerors. In addition, deSoto will be in residence during the museum’s summer Art Camp to interact with children and introduce them to his project.The opening of the exhibition will feature deSoto’s 2004 sculpture CONQUEST, a simulation (“faux-riginal”) of a 1965 car that never existed. This actual car carries within its branding, color schemes, and inherent metaphors the language of colonial power in the Americas, referencing the white war horse that Hernando de Soto used as a conquering weapon in the new world. DeSoto’s wry sculptural and video inventions in combination with actual Mesoamerican objects bring to light the historical meanings of the museum’s holdings by positioning them within a contemporary context. The car will remain on view through September 18, 2011.Having grown up in nearby San Bernardino, Lewis deSoto (b. 1954) is literally a native son of the Inland Empire. His mixed blood heritage positions him as a literal product of the exchange and competing claims of the Cahuilla/Native American, Spanish, and Mexican-American peoples who identify with this region. He is known for his photographs, installations, sculpture and public art that engage cosmological questions, notions of self, and cultural mythologies.Organized by the Palm Springs Art Museum, this artist project is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation with additional funding provided by the LEF Foundation, the Irvine & Irma Robbins Foundation, and Marilyn Throckmorton.