Daniel Joseph Martinez’ photographic exhibition, “I Want to go to Detroit: Cheerleaders Cheer”, at Simon Preston Gallery juxtaposes two bodies of work from his days in southern California from the 1970s.
Entering into the exhibit, one is greeted by glaring and bright black and white photos of male body builders. Moving around this front room, one will notice the vulgarity of the male body, the way in which these Greek-like forms show off their strength, not to employ in any useful manner, but simply to be seen. Imperfections which are so shunned in this body building arena become incredibly apparent when every nook and cranny of the body is captured by the judging eye of Martinez’ camera; Sweat collects in unattractive areas, muscles become deflated- nothing passes undetected.
Similarly, the second exhibit in the rear of the gallery is a collection showing the behind-the-scenes reality of beauty queens at a pageant. These horizontal photos reflect the body building series in that they offer a less than attractive view of the women so often praised for their desirability. By including candid photos of pageant queens, Martinez exploits the rarely seen imperfect dimension of beautiful women.
When viewed in conjunction, these two series reinforce the strength of one another, building upon the historical importance of the “gaze” and desire to be on display, while also offering an intimate and grimy insight into what it takes to be a spectacle.