Afuera. Arte en la esfera pública
Majo Arrigoni, Elián Chali, Renato Custodio, Dolores de Argentina,
Hora French, Gabriel Orge, Pablo Peisino, Gerardo Repetto
06.07.19 | 10.08.19
In order “to make visible works that undermine certain social consensuses,” Córdoba-based gallery The White Lodge (TWL) exhibited a selection of works by the artists it represents. The pieces in the show housed at Munar deal with the logic at play in the relationship between art and public space. In her introduction, Georgina Valdez, director of TWL and curator of the show, explains that “Afuera is a space of projection that goes beyond established limits as it expands frontiers for the sake of experimentation.”
The show begins before visitors walk into the venue: Dolores de Argentina (Córdoba, 1960) intervened on the building’s facade, placing a large neon sign that cites Jorge Luis Borges’s poem Everness. “Solo una cosa no hay. Es el olvido” [Only one thing does not exist. Oblivion] in upper-case white letters shines in the dark. The piece had been exhibited in 2012 in Parque de la Memoria. In Munar’s Gallery 1, called El Pescadito, de Argentina’s recent work, Bestiario (Bestiary), mimics the chaotic electrical wires found in many cities, engaging those lines as a system of strings that dialogues with the urban landscape.
Gerardo Repetto (Villa Huidobro, 1976) shows Caballo (Horse), a video based on the experience of buying from a street vendor a battery-operated plastic horse that trots around the post it is tethered to. To show how the toy works, the vendor places it on a wooden board that bears the marks of so much stomping. The imprint on the board is circular and even, yet somehow shapeless. Repetto also used horse-hoof prints to make a series of drawings on different supports; the prints wear away at the material. Through the image of an industrialized, low-cost, and mass-consumed object, the artist connects the exhibition venue and the urban environment.
Pablo Peisino (Córdoba, 1975) makes use of resources from popular culture and its characters. As curator Rodrigo Alonso describes, the artist uses “worn-out and disposal surfaces” in works that evidence his considerable skill as an artist. On this occasion, he embroidered the words El arte es un combate, en el arte es necesario jugarse hasta la piel [Art is warfare, in art you have to gamble your very skin] onto a gnawed blanket. His multi-piece soft sculpture Perro atropellado (Dog Run Over, 2008), also made of old blankets, is scattered on the floor like so many parts of a child’s toy.
Hora French (Córdoba, 1982) presents a special edition of his Animalario, a book that sets out to create a new and fantastic Argentina. In it, dreams and science are the creative forces out of which a unique and dynamic fauna emerges in a vague age before the imposition of arbitrary political borders. The artist invites us to explore a world of made-up animals that are governed by the rules of science in “untamed lands, where the law of the fittest reigns supreme.” It is, the artist describes, “an epoch of the planet’s history when savagely beautiful creatures live together making risky moves in friendly games.” This edition of Animalario has twenty-four species native to Argentina and other South American countries.
Renato Custodio (São Paulo, 1981) shows a series of black-and-white photographs that document brutalist building in São Paulo, superimposing their abstract images. Custodio depicts the spaces where the concrete forms part of the urban landscape, mostly places appropriated by skaters. For these images, he uses an entirely analog process, from multiple exposures on negative film to printing and enlarging on paper.
“Apareciendo” (Appearing) by Gabriel Orge (Bell Ville, 1967) activates memory in works where the territory and its tie to the past act as support. Orge projects onto different Latin American landscapes portraits of people that were disappeared at the hand of the state in illegal acts of repression. For Apareciendo a López en el río Ctalamochita (Appearing López Appear in the Ctalamochita River), the artist projected onto the Ctalamochita River the portrait of Jorge Julio López—a person disappeared in Argentina in 2006, well after the return to democracy in 1983—by photographer Helen Zout and then proceeded to photograph the image. In Apareciendo a los prisioneros de Calama (Appearing the Calama Inmates), he worked with the portraits of the twenty-six prisoners shot on December 19, 1973 at what was known at the Cave of Death in Chile.
For Elián Chali (Córdoba, 1988), the work is not an end in itself, but an action in a given space that serves to spur dialogue. He uses the greatest possible number of tools and devices to perform intuitive research into social and cultural questions in order to develop an idea that he will then shape in abbreviated form. The aim is to establish a dialogue with the environment, understanding art as a methodology applied to all aspects of life. For Chali, art can be in everything. This time, he made a diptych of paintings in one of the corners of the gallery.
Paula by Majo Arrigoni (Córdoba, 1982) forms part of “El amor era otra cosa” (Love was Something Else), a series of painted portraits of women that questions portrait as genre and gender as identity. These close-up images unabashedly observe and question us. They take on a distinct meaning in the current context of radical social change that attempts to make the feminine visible. Here, the woman-painter occupies a place in art that has historically been denied her, and the figure of woman is portrayed not as idealized object for another’s gaze, but in the plural and from the perspective of her own gender.
Content produced by arteBA. Annual Report on contemporary Argentine art