THE CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM PRESENTS
A newly commissioned installation by Bay Area-born artist and 2018 Jarman Award-winner Daria Martin that combines computer gaming technology and 16mm film to explore the dreams and memories of Martin’s paternal grandmother
June 27, 2019–February 19, 2020
Press Preview: June 27, 2019; 10am–12pm
(San Francisco, CA, March 15, 2019) The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents Daria Martin: Tonight the World, a new installation co-commissioned with Barbican, London, by Bay Area-born artist and 2018 Jarman Award-winner Daria Martin. Daria Martin: Tonight the World uses both computer gaming technology and film to explore the dreams and memories of Martin’s paternal grandmother, Susi Stiassni, who, at the age of 16, fled the former Czechoslovakia with her family from the imminent threat of the Nazi occupation in 1938.
An immersive and atmospheric environment, Daria Martin: Tonight the World operates simultaneously as a portrait of Martin’s ancestor, a self-portrait, and an exploration of intergenerational trauma, intolerance, migration, and resilience. The installation stages a series of intimate encounters with Stiassni’s memories, culled from an extensive archive of her dream diaries. Created over a thirty-seven-year period, these meticulously recorded documents amount to over twenty thousand diary pages, and were originally chronicled for the purposes of psychoanalysis. Stiassni’s dreams frequently return to the disquieting history of her childhood home, a modernist villa that was seized by the Nazis after the family left, and which remains standing today as a national heritage site in the city of Brno. Although Stiassni never returned to Brno after settling in Marin County, she often revisited the family home in her dreams. The installation will also feature a wall-sized selection of Stiassni’s original diary pages and several of her paintings.
A key element of the installation is Martin’s 13.5 minute anamorphic 16 mm film Tonight the World (2019). Based on five dreams from her grandmother’s diaries, Martin has reimagined their narratives, amplifying recurring themes of anxiety and intrusion. All five dreams take place in or near her grandmother’s childhood home, and were shot on location at the Villa Stiassni. In Tonight the World, four actresses play all of the roles in the film, each representing Stiassni at a different age and life stage. Rather than playing roles in accordance with their apparent age and gender, the actresses interchange parts: in moments the eldest woman plays a child; the young woman plays a middle-aged man; and a middle-aged woman plays a young boy.
The family villa also serves as the central locus of Martin’s companion piece, Refuge (2019), a computer game that recreates the home as a 3D digital rendering. Following the game’s directive, an invisible avatar moves through the villa’s monochrome rooms in search of five objects connected to the five dreams from Tonight the World. These objects, such as a toy robot or a Chinese warrior figurine, are the only objects that appear in color in the greyscale videogame. Visitors can watch an 11-minute playthrough of the game or they can play or download the game themselves. Refuge was developed in collaboration with game designers in Brno, which has become a major game development hub often referred to as the “Silicon Valley” of Europe.
The exhibition environment is a collaboration between Martin and artist/designer Melissa Appleton and responds to the unique context of the Daniel Libeskind-designed galleries at The CJM. A diagonal wall creates a series of concealed spaces—drawing on the eccentric architecture of the Villa Stiassni, which plays a key role in Martin’s film.
“I’m pursuing what some psychoanalysts call ‘deposited representations’: psychic images that are unconsciously passed on through generations, impressed unknowingly through repeated relations,” says Martin. “Here, decades of latent, shared feeling between Susi and myself is being carefully dusted off, or reimagined. As I filmically interpret her dreams, I’m aware that the dreams are also, somehow, already my own.”
“The CJM’s commitment to commissioning and presenting the work of important contemporary artists is nowhere more evident than in Daria Martin: Tonight the World,” says Lori Starr, Executive Director, The CJM. “We are so pleased to be partnering with Barbican, London to bring this moving and innovative work to the Bay Area. Daria Martin is at the vanguard of artists working with moving images, and this exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to introduce her work to our audiences. Some here in the Bay Area also may remember that Martin’s grandmother was a painter studying with Ann O’Hanlon as part of the artists’ group Sight and Insight based in Mill Valley.”
Daria Martin: Tonight the World premiered in January 2019 at the The Curve, Barbican Centre, and has been commissioned by Barbican, London and co-commissioned by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator, The CJM.
Lead sponsorship is generously provided by Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, Michael Steinberg, Suzanne and Elliott Felson, Dorothy R. Saxe, Lisa Stone Pritzker, John Pritzker, Ron and Barbara Kaufman, Phyllis Moldaw, Roselyne C. Swig, Adrienne Bavar and Marc Wolfe, the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, Joyce B. Linker, Kendra and Tom Kasten, Lara and Antony Ritch, Marilyn and Murry Waldman, Judith and Robert Aptekar, Dana A. Corvin and Harris Weinberg, Nellie and Max Levchin, David Saxe, Jennifer and Tony Smorgon, Ruth Stein, Alexandra O. Moses, and Emily and Stephen Mendel. Additional support is provided by Shelli Semler and Kyle Bach; the South Moravian Film Endowment Fund, Czech Republic; Masaryk University, Brno; and St. John’s College, University of Oxford.
Daria Martin is an internationally exhibited artist living in London, and Professor of Art at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Martin’s films aim to create continuity between disparate media such as painting and performance, between people and objects, and between internal and social worlds.
Martin was born in 1973 in San Francisco. After studying humanities at Yale, she received her Master in Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2000. Solo exhibitions include Maureen Paley, London, UK (2016); One of the Things That Makes Me Doubt, ACCA: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); Sensorium Tests, Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2012); and Minotaur, Touring Exhibition, MCA Chicago, Chicago, USA, New Museum, New York, USA and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA (2009-10).
Recent group exhibitions include The New Human, Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden, touring to Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2016); 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, Istanbul, Turkey (2015); 10th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2014); In the Holocene, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (2012); and Dancing Through Life, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2011).
Martin was recently awarded the 2018 Film London Jarman Award. She is represented by Maureen Paley, London.
With the opening of its new building on June 8, 2008, The Contemporary Jewish Museum ushered in a new chapter in its twenty-plus year history of engaging audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, is a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in hands-on activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase L’Chaim (To Life), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the twenty-first century.
Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s educational programs for youth, young adults, and families with young children comes from Jim Joseph Foundation. The CJM thanks the Koret Foundation for major support of the Museum’s Jewish Peoplehood exhibitions and programs. Additional major support is provided by two anonymous donors; Bank of America; The Covenant Foundation; Suzanne and Elliott Felson; Gaia Fund; Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Grants for the Arts; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; Wendy Kesser; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Nellie and Max Levchin; 706 Mission Co LLC; The Bernard Osher Foundation; Lisa Stone Pritzker; John Pritzker; Dorothy R. Saxe; Seiger Family Foundation; Taube Philanthropies for Jewish Life and Culture; United States Department of Homeland Security; and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Major support for The Museum’s Helen Diller Institute is generously provided by The Helen Diller Family Foundation.
For more information about The Contemporary Jewish Museum, visit The Museum’s website at thecjm.org.
The Museum is open daily (except Wednesday) 11am–5pm and Thursday, 11am–8pm. Museum admission is $16 for adults, $14 for students and senior citizens with a valid ID, and $8 on Thursdays after 5pm. Youth 18 and under always get in free. For general information on The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the public may visit The Museum’s website at thecjm.org or call 415.655.7800. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is located at 736 Mission Street (between Third & Fourth streets), San Francisco.