What’s new? Exhibit trio opens at Museum of Contemporary Art

From MCASD Reports

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) will present three new exhibitions, running Sept. 21 through Jan. 12, 2014 at 700 Prospect St. in La Jolla.

Exhibit 1: “Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller”

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Vancouver Art Gallery, this survey focuses on Cardiff and Miller’s work from the mid-1990s to today. The exhibition consists of a series of discrete immersive environments, which span the period from key early pieces, such as “Dark Pool” (1995) and “The Muriel Lake Incident” (1999), to recent works including “Killing Machine” (2007) and “Experiment in F# Minor” (2013).

MCASD curators said these installations, all of which have a strong architectural character, are imaginary spaces where time slows down and is altered, allowing fictional and historical narratives to blend and merge with the viewer’s own experience and memory.

As environments that viewers understand to be art, yet with which they willingly engage both physically and psychically, Cardiff and Miller’s works encourage shifts in consciousness and create uniquely compelling possible worlds.

Cardiff began collaborating with fellow Canadian artist and partner Miller in 1995. When they represented Canada at the 49th Venice Biennale with “The Paradise Institute” (2001), they won both La Biennale di Venezia Special Award and the Benesse Prize, which recognizes artists who “break new artistic ground with an experimental and pioneering spirit.”

Exhibit 2: “Scripps on Prospect: Evolution of Villa and Cottage”

A collaboration between MCASD and the La Jolla Historical Society, this presentation examines the history of their respective buildings at 700 and 780 Prospect St.

Constructed within less than a decade of each other at the turn of 20th century, both institutions’ original buildings share an association with the Scripps family — MCASD was Ellen Browning Scripps’s residence, while Wisteria Cottage belonged to her half-sister, Eliza Virginia.

They also have an association with modernist architect Irving Gill, who designed or remodeled each of the buildings. Robert Mosher and Robert Venturi made architectural additions to MCASD. Wisteria Cottage became the Balmer School, and later, The Nexus and John Cole’s bookstore.

Exhibit 3: “Dana Montlack: Sea of Cortez”

Working with micro lenses, photographer Dana Montlack makes the unseen visible in compositions that convey both specificity and mystery. Her richly hued images isolate and abstract biological specimens into beguiling graphic elements.

Her newest body of work directly references John Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” (1951), which recounts his six- week expedition through the Gulf of California with marine biologist Ed Ricketts. Part intertidal taxonomy, part ecological travelog, the book considers themes of home, mapping and environmental harmony.

Working with scientists and staff at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium, Montlack selected and photographed specimens and charts from the waterways Steinbeck explored. By isolating and layering this source imagery, drawn from the vast Scripps Oceanographic Collections, Montlack crafts a new taxonomy of place.

If you go

■ What: Three, new contemporary art exhibits

■ Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla

■ When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closed Wednesday)

■ Admission: $10; $5 students, seniors; free 5-7 p.m. third Thursday

■ Box Office: (858) 454 3541

■ Website: