Jason Mortara, First Artist on Mars
For his first major solo exhibition, Jason Mortara constructed an alien landscape reminiscent of science fiction and staked his claim to be the “first artist on Mars.”
A monitor in one corner of the gallery played footage from the Rover expedition beside still photographs sent back from the red planet, which documented the installations made by Mortara while on his mission. But Mars, in Mortara’s installation, was not only a physical place. Like Stanley Kubrick in 2001, in outer space he confronted the internal workings of the mind and the metaphysical limits of the human condition. In the center of the gallery stood a thirteen-foot high, glowing, translucent, shingled house, which remained sealed shut like the amnesia of the unconscious, but seemed to speak to the childhood experiences of home that orient us in life. And, on the walls, hung images of hands (painted from stock photography found in image banks), which extended this psychological study as the authoritative hands of a parent, and presented ominous figures of death and eternity as the hands of God.