2111 Mission Street
Suite 401
San Francisco 94110

E Pluribus Unam
A social research project and installation
Jonathon Tellier

October 21st - November 25th, 2005

Are you red? Or are you Blue?

Jonathon Tellier employs performance, installation, and mail-art techniques to explore nationalism, the ideological value of “unity,” and the purported division of the U.S. into “red” and “blue” states. Dressed as “Uncle Sam,” he has used balloons to distribute surveys in both “blue” (i.e., urban, coastal), and “red” (rural, inland) areas of California, with questions about America, faith, modernity, politics, fear, beauty, and violence. The collected responses have been presented at Mission 17, and visitors to the gallery have been invited to contribute to the discussion with answers of their own. A video projection shows the artist as “Uncle Sam,” conducting his survey in San Francisco, Stockton, and on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento. The ceiling of the gallery is decorated with red and blue balloons, and machine-gun rifles hanging beneath them. And the windows of the gallery have been covered with large-scale prints of the eyes of America’s founding fathers.

The show moves between the gallery and the street in an effort to generate dialogue about who “we” are as Americans, what we value most, and how we find ourselves situated by current ideological categories. Tellier calls into question the division between art and science – in social research specifically – and provides a model of discursive engagement, which challenges the purported “objectivity” of sociological surveys by directly engaging the theatrics and rhetorical devices that inform our sense of ourselves as a nation.

Jonathon Tellier got his start in the art-world as a direct marketing consultant, creating focus group research for the Anti-Advertising Agency, (www.antiadvertisingagency.com). He is a former member of the San Francisco Print Collective and he holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has contributed to various public art projects in and around San Francisco, and recently participated in the “Paper Bullets” exhibition at the Intersection for the Arts.




"E Pluribus Unam at MISSION 17," Steve Lambert, Shotgun Reviews, October, 2005

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