Diminishing Return

Adam Schreiber

Exhibition: Nov 18, 2010 – Jan 9, 2011

The DeLorean DMC-12 is the subject of Adam Schreiber’s exhibition, Diminishing Return, which features a series of color and monochromatic photographs showing fragments from the automobile, best known as the time machine featured in the Back to the Future trilogy filmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A chance encounter at a local archive where Schreiber was investigating photographs of General Motors (GM) prototypes from the 1939 World’s Fair led to his current body of work. The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was the brainchild of one of GM’s brightest engineers, John DeLorean, who was responsible for the production of wildly popular Pontiac cars in the 1960s and 1970s, including the GTO, Firebird, and Grand Prix. In 1973 DeLorean parted ways from GM and founded his self-named motor company. A series of setbacks delayed the release of his signature DMC-12 vehicle until 1981, and legal and financial issues halted operations altogether in 1982. A Houston area entrepreneur acquired the rights to and remaining parts from DMC in the late 1990s, and the DMC-12 began production again in 2008, largely from original stock parts.

Over the course of his residency, Schreiber paid several visits to the DMC surplus facility in Humble, Texas, photographing fragments of the Phoenix-like DMC-12 vehicle and its storage environment. Images include console vents, transmission parts, storage boxes, and shock absorbers. Varied in scale and content, the photographs convey an otherworldliness of these benign items, shown as they are isolated in vast white spaces devoid of context.

Additionally Schreiber arranged for a recently assembled DeLorean vehicle to be brought temporarily to Artpace, in order to utilize the building’s automotive history as a framing device for several large-scale photographs. In contrast to the mournful aspects of the images of individual parts, which appear as relics from another time and place, the automobile photographs impart a more animated atmosphere of something functioning and complete. This tension between existence and non-existence, past and present, underwrites much of his interest in the DeLorean subject as a celebrated anomaly of American automotive history.

The way photographs conceal, distort, and obfuscate motivate Schreiber’s relationship to historical subject matter; and the ambiguous dual nature of the DMC-12 as archival relic and futuristic vehicle is a prime topic for exploration. In Diminishing Return, he uses photography to liberate the DMC-12 from its specific pop culture and automotive associations, elevating it to an iconic status that speaks to different generations with contrasting frames of reference, allowing a vehicle formerly associated with excessive luxury to occupy the realm otherwise reserved for works of art.


Adam Schreiber

Austin, Texas, USA

Adam Schreiber is an Austin-based photographer who mines the potential meanings of cultural artifacts and abandoned corporate spaces. He utilizes objects from existing collections and archives as the source of his photography, often re-documenting items in a state of preservation. By isolating imagery of outdated technology and sterile laboratory settings from their cultural significance, Schreiber enables the viewer to re-imagine these spaces and objects in new and unexpected ways.
Schreiber received his MFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. After receiving his BFA from Colorado State University in 1999, he was awarded the Santa Chiara Study Center Fellowship, Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy, in 2000. He has had solo exhibitions at Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York, New York (2010); Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas (2008); and Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California (2006). His work has been included in many group exhibitions, includingInterrupted Landscapes, Champion Contemporary, Austin (2010); Perspectives 168: Anna Krachey, Jessica Mallios, and Adam Schreiber, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, (2009);Mystique of the Archive, Harry Ransom Center, Austin (2008); and The Fifth of July, Okay Mountain Gallery, Austin (2008).

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Michael Darling

Seattle, Washington, USA / Chicago, Illinois, USA

Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he served as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum from 2006-2010. While there, he organized distinguished exhibitions, including Gaylen Hansen, Three Decades of Painting (2007-08), Su-Mei Tse (2008), Dennis Oppenheim: Safety Cones (2008), and Target Practice: Painting Under Attack 1949-78 (2009). Darling also served as an assistant curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art beginning in 1998, where he organized Superflat, in collaboration with the artist Takashi Murakami (2001); Seattle artist/architect Roy McMakin’s first museum survey (2002); and Painting in Tongues, a survey of single artists whose practices span many mediums (2006). Darling received his Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Barbara, on the furniture of 20th-century American designer George Nelson.

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