Daniel Tovar. Anti-Frontier

8 Jun 2024 – 7 Jul 2024

Regular hours

12:00 – 17:00
12:00 – 17:00

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Monte Vista

Los Angeles
California, United States

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Monte Vista Projects is pleased to present Anti-Frontier, the first solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist Daniel Tovar. The work in this exhibition, which explores and critiques the notion of the American frontier, encompasses a two-channel video installation, field recordings and synth compositions, and a series of concrete-and-steel sculptures.  

Anti-Frontier is the culmination of multiple trips to the Western Mojave Desert over several years, during which Tovar recorded video and collected sound from two adjacent locations: California City and the Tehachapi Pass wind farm, both roughly 100 miles north of Los Angeles. 

These sites might seem disparate at first. The former had once been pitched to homebuyers as a new kind of mega-suburb; the latter is a wind farm housing thousands of turbines. But both are sprawling developments erected on vast expanses of desert, each dependent on the extraction of resources. Each site, too, was once envisioned as a model for the future. One has clearly failed; will the other?

One channel of the video in Anti-Frontier captures scenes of a planned community in decay: empty grids for tract housing that was never built, abandoned cars adorned with graffiti, street signs and fence posts and sidewalks that lead nowhere. The other channel depicts the wind farm and its towering, god-like turbines; squeaky blades casting shadows on ancient creosote. 

There are moments of synchronicity, beauty, and absurdity: the sound of ducks near a man-made pond, the red lights of turbines blinking in the night, a freight train that catches fire and fills the sky with black smoke. These scenes, devoid of humans but brimming with machines, are reminders of the ways industry and technology have altered and reshaped the landscape. 

In one particularly striking image, a steel pole capped on one end with a mass of concrete lies flat on the dirt, an emblem of suburban defeat. Utilitarian yet uncanny, this object inspired the human-size sculptures that occupy the gallery floor, dominating the space like post-apocalyptic beasts. 

The collection of sculptures, which are imposing yet playful, rigid while somehow evoking movement, look like leftovers from a city in ruins; souvenirs from a post-capitalist decline. But unlike the fallen object that inspired them, these stand mostly upright, resurrected into a new kind of desert creature. There’s something hopeful about these bizarre monuments; then again, maybe they’re yet another unnecessary intrusion in the landscape. 

Anti-Frontier represents Tovar’s ongoing interest in the so-called frontier, the geography of hinterlands, and the tolls of technology and human extraction on the natural environment. His work, which primarily takes the form of video, sound, and sculpture, has been shown and/or performed at Wonzimer, Materials and Applications, Coaxial Arts Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Comfort Station, among others. He holds a PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University and teaches in the Liberal Arts department at Southern California Institute of Architecture. 

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Daniel Tovar


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