From sandcastles and relic-like sculptures to an immersive three-channel video, Jonah King’s exhibition, How the West Was Won, reveals unique relationships among geologic time, colonialism, climate change, and golf. King’s exhibition purposefully shares the title of the 1962 ultra-widescreen American western film, which opens with this narration: “This land has a name today and is marked on maps. But the names and the marks and the land all had to be won. Won from nature and from primitive man”. This film and unnerving quote about westward expansion contextualizes the entire exhibition—not just in the artwork’s content but also its mediums. For instance, King’s stunning ultra-wide video projection directly references the format of the original film, but in the place of gallant cowboys trailblazing western trails there are two older white men, in casual sports attire, playing an eternal round of golf in the middle of the Mojave Desert—a foreboding foreshadow of the consequences of climate change. Like two ghosts, the golfers seem to be forever destined to haunt the barren landscape, not with rattling chains, but with swinging golf clubs.
Rockford Art Museum is proud to host New Genres Art Space presenting Jonah King: How The West Was Won and Veronica Soria Martinez: Memory Access. This exhibition and its related educational programming are sponsored by Lisa and Mark Lindman. Exhibition-related materials are supported in-part by a grant from Rockford Area Arts Council.