Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gabriel Orozco

(This post is a reminder that the Orozco retrospective at MoMA will end on March 1, 2010.)

Gabriel Orozco: "One thing that I’ve had to learn as an artist – considering how everything that I had learned about what art should be and what art was, and what an artist should be like (disciplined, following the love of the craft) – was that this didn’t work for me. Suddenly I had to take all of these notions apart, because they weren’t mine, they weren’t enough for me; they bored me and threw me into despair. It was a system that really didn’t work for me. Realizing this gave me a very different vision; I think it has repercussions in the way in which my pieces started to turn out, because I understood at last that my urgent struggle was to find something that was not art. In that sense, I’m not sure if people who consider themselves 'educated' understand what art is; I think not. I saw that 'educated' people as well as 'ignorant' ones immediately viewed my work with disapproval: the yogurt lids, the balls of Play-Doh. With ignorant people, it’s obvious that you have to try to destroy their prejudices, but with educated people it’s the same thing, you also have to destroy their prejudices – and their judgment. In their case, it’s a prejudice regarding what they ask of and from art. But as Borges said, we don’t know what art should be, and we don’t need to find out, either; what we seek is to understand the reason why art exists."


  1. I particularly enjoyed the photograph "Breath on Piano" in the way it captured and made permanent - yet still ethereal - something so fleeting and momentary.

  2. I found all of the photos of Orozco's "residual effects" the most interesting part of the exhibit. For one thing, all of his work -- whether sculpture, drawing, photography, automotive-reconstructive -- to be performance-based, so it's in the inimitable act (of creation/impression) in which the "art event" takes place (i.e., rolling a plasticine ball over city streets to inscribe the physicality of that interaction on the ball's surface; creating giant ripples on the surface of water collected on the rooftops of a couple of drab industrial buildings).

    This ephermality seesms to be a very prominent trend in contemporary art practice; in this age of endless identical reproductions, we are interested in unique events that cannot be duplicated exactly the same way ever again. BUT...on the other hand, they can be *documented*, and this is what interests us almost more than originality.

    Which leads to the second reason these photos are so interesting; the process of documentation becomes a statement/art practice in itself. Each of the photos (including "Breath on Piano") becomes an echo of the originary action, calling attention to the residual/ripple effects of experience. (e.g., "Extensions of Reflection" 1992 shows two water puddles on the street, connected by streaks of water made by dragging some wheeled object round and round in circles to connected the two puddles visually/materially). Like in journalistic reportage, the documentation or interpretation of a cause/effect event or relationship becomes a standalone event. In the piece "Crazy Tourist" (1991), Orozco placed several discrete pieces of fruit very deliberately on empty tables in a bunch of abandoned stalls in a rural Brazilian market (, calling attention to our tendency to intervene in reality through the simple act of observation (ie, constructing patterns where there are none -- a la our imaginary sense of "cause->effect," whereas Bernard Cache says in "Earth Moves" we cannot determine the nature of the "interval" between cause and effect, Orozco has perhaps enacted that interval?).

    Also enjoyed Orozco's approach to the thinking process through art practice, via the shapes of object formations, representing "what just happened before":;media=/art21/GO2_video_lo.rm,/art21/GO2_video_hi.rm,/art21/,/art21/,/art21/GO2_video_lo.wmv,/art21/GO2_video_hi.wmv;title=Clay%20works%20by%20Gabriel%20Orozco;widescreen=true;playertemplate=/art21/Templates/art21_mp.html

    Also, his profile on Art21: