ICA San Diego is a platform for experimental art and learning with a mission to question everything.
Founded in 2021, yet built on over 100 years of combined experience, our programming is cutting edge yet accessible; daring and thoughtful; challenging and inviting. Our exhibitions, installations, commissions, classes, and workshops reflect ICA San Diego’s commitment to engage the issues of the moment and provide a space for the community to come together and consider the world in which we live. ICA San Diego welcomes everyone to gather, learn, question, and experience the new.
ICA San Diego is always free and open to the public. ICA San Diego / Central is located at 1439 El Prado in Balboa Park, and ICA San Diego / North is located at 1550 S. El Camino Real in Encinitas.
Current & Upcoming Exhibitions
Sasha Koozel Reibstein: The End is Near the Beginning
September 9 through October 8, 2023
The End is Near the Beginning, the first solo museum exhibition by San Diego-based sculptor Sasha Koozel Reibstein (b. 1978, Boston, MA), is an invitation to consider our place in the universe. Through her sculpture, Reibstein visualizes the connections between the earth and the cosmos as interpreted through the body, recognizing the parallels between the intense collisions of heat, energy, and pressure that form galaxies, living organisms, as well as ceramic objects. The transformative potential of these extraordinary occurrences–and humanity’s fundamental linkage to them–is a central concern of Reibstein’s practice.
Reibstein was able to realize these works–her largest to date–thanks to residences at San Diego State University and Cal State University Long Beach. “I used my own body to calibrate their scale, challenging both the limits of the material and my own physicality,” Reibstein explains. “At their core, these works are about our mortal forms and the psychic challenges of living within them; it was critical to me to make these works on a scale so they could be immersive and at times overwhelming.” Over five feet tall, the title work in the exhibition is composed of five looped portals whose beginnings and ends are impossible to decipher. Its interlocking arches seem to liquefy into molten metal—an effect Reibstein achieves through her signature ceramic “drips,” each individually applied and then glazed with metallic luster. The sculpture’s many appendages are layered with color and texture, guiding the viewer through landscapes that are at once oozing and painterly, punctuated by pockmarks and candy-colored crystal formations. Journeying through the work’s exquisite passages reminds viewers that every ending also seeds new growth.
The portal as a transformative tool and a vehicle for psychic teleportation continues to be a central theme in Reibstein’s work. In this exhibition, each sculpture contains one or more portals in combination with drip formations that represent metamorphosis and personal evolution. “I want the viewer to be able to see themselves passing through their portals, imagining their future or past, balancing a bountiful hope and meditation, with reflective loss and healing,” says Reibstein. These portals allow us to visualize transcending our traumas and fears, emerging on the other side strengthened and changed.
Reibstein’s exhibition also offers a meditation on the ICA San Diego’s ongoing exploration of consumption. It invites us to consider the multiple definitions of the word, on levels that are literal, physical, and conceptual. “To consume” can mean both to nourish and destroy; we can consume, or be consumed, emotionally and/or physically. Dualities such as these are at the core of Reibstein’s practice, which relies on the power of such tensions to propel us into the future while also connecting us to eternities past. Though grounded in mortality, the cyclical nature of existence in Reibstein’s work is never morbid; instead it offers an opportunity for growth, renewal, and deep connection across time.
Taylor Chapin: Tell Me About Yourself
September 23 through December 30, 2023
In her paintings, Oceanside-based artist Taylor Chapin (b. Encinitas, CA 1991) uses bold color, swirling patterns, and enigmatically camouflaged figures to portray a society that treats beauty and goods as social currency. In this new body of work, Chapin employs the visual strategies of advertising to reflect on the current moment in which our identity has become our brand. As our growing dependence on technology encourages us to broadcast, and often monetize, every detail of our existence, deciphering the parts of us that feel authentic versus appropriated becomes increasingly challenging.
Borrowing compositional structures from digital advertising, billboards, showrooms, and infomercials, Chapin presents carefully staged tableaux that are designed to seduce. Androgynous figures are draped across furniture and disembodied hands suggestively caress decorative vases, while Chapin’s perspectival distortions produce an almost hallucinogenic effect. Through this deliberate disorientation, Chapin conflates the objectification of the human form with the fetishization of the object itself. What–or who–is being sold becomes unclear. This confusion echoes Chapin’s own ambivalence as both a participant in, and a critic of, capitalist consumption. Her subjects are imbued with a similarly paradoxical sense of desire: to exceed and defy society’s expectations; to strive for both belonging and individuality.
Danielle Dean: Bazar
October 21 to December 30, 2023
In her 2018 installation, Bazar, British-American artist Danielle Dean (b.1982, Alabama, lives and works in Los Angeles) exposes the deeply entangled histories of colonialism, capitalism, and consumer culture. Drawing on imagery from nearly 150 years of retail catalogs produced by the legendary Parisian department store Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV), Bazar is comprised of a four-channel video accompanied by a series of life-size diorama-like vignettes. Visitors to Bazar will encounter an environment that is part retail showroom, part Disney-fied capitalist fantasy in which parading household goods, live-action film, and animated sequences combine to illuminate the ways in which our relationships to objects can shape our subjecthood. Dean often anchors her projects in specific corporate histories (more recent projects have included the Ford Motor Company and Amazon), with each story offering a point of entry into her overarching cultural critique: the persistence of colonial influence on identity and social dynamics in our supposedly postcolonial age.
Bazar originated out of Dean’s research in the archives of Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, and her work with a group of women from Permis de Vivre la Ville (License to Live in the City), a community engagement organization working to increase social engagement in the Paris suburbs. In collaboration with the young women, many of whom have roots in former French colonies, Dean examined BHV catalogues from 1880 to the present, and together they discussed how the visual and written content served to create a “normative” French consumer who is assumed to be white and upper-middle class. Dean combined elements of these discussions with actual catalog texts to develop a script that, along with some improvised conversation, comprises the film’s dialogue.
Retail catalogs like BHV were essential to the economic and cultural success of France’s imperial project–disseminating not just goods, but notions of citizenship and identity throughout the French empire. “Danielle’s dissection of retail items, their descriptions, as well as the economic channels they travel through makes clear the links between contemporary consumer desire and the long histories of exploitative systems of labor and exchange,” says ICA curator, Jordan Karney Chaim. “The way Danielle combines historical research with the visuals and tactics of contemporary advertising–and of course, wit–makes Bazar a powerful vehicle for ICA San Diego’s continued exploration of systems of consumption and social value.”
Visit Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) North
1550 S El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
Thursday–Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 pm
ICA San Diego / North, South El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA