November 6 – January 15, 2004
By day, McGovern’s subjects are truck drivers, office clerks and students working at mundane jobs within the economically and socially depressed city of San Bernardino, California. With its choreographed scenarios, contrived characters and violent, sexual themes, professional wrestling is an outlet for them to realize their goals of fame and super-stardom. McGovern portrays his subjects in their outlandish, violent and sexual wrestling personas, but look beneath the surface of their bravado and he has captured the vulnerable and slight young person, trying desperately to find his or her way in a world where image rules.
“Growing up with MTV and tabloid journalism, my subjects have consciously constructed their personas,” said McGovern. “They inherently understand how photography creates a public identity and blurs fiction into fact. As performance artists, they preen and strike poses for the camera that mock famous TV wrestlers while simultaneously admiring them, all for the magic of being captured in the pain and glory of their chosen alter egos.”
McGovern is an assistant professor of photography at California State University, San Bernardino. His photographs have been widely published and exhibited and are in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among many others. McGovern is the author of Bearing Witness (to AIDS) (A.R.T. Press/Visual AIDS 1999) and writes criticism for Afterimage and Artweek magazines. His work was included in the internationally traveling exhibition and publication Pandemic: Facing AIDS (Umbrage, 2003).