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The Contemporary Jewish Museum presents a new installation by Daria Martin
Daria Martin, Tonight the World, 2019. Anamorphic 16mm film transferred to HD, 13.5 minutes. © Daria Martin, courtesy Maureen Paley, London.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The Contemporary Jewish Museum 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.

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