The Restoration 2005
Collection of the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
Using Johannes Vermeer paintings as an inspiration for creating a contemporary tableau vivant, the artist purchases a factory stock 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix for staging the scene. He remodels his garage to resemble a Vermeer interior and places figures in contemporary and 17th Century period garb to stage an event that seems to float between photographic, painterly and cinematic forms. The underlying Western iconography is undermined by the reference to the “New World” Pontiac named after the Obwandiyag leader who led the attack on Fort Detroit after the French ceded control to the British and General Amherst who led a cruel campaign against all Native people under his purview. The “Restoration” is not a literal restoration of a car but the restoration of the consciousness of native history. The “grand prix” in this sense is control of the lands ceded by the natives to the French and then the British and Americans.
The scene is photographed with a 4x5 camera and post production occurs in photoshop where perspective color rendering and specular highlights are added to represent Vermeer’s rendering style.
The work is presented as a medium scale lightbox.