Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rootless artist?

A whole exhibition is dedicated to Gabriel Orozco at the Centre Pompidou, Galerie Sud. Finally, it is the occasion to view the work of an artist who, so far, as been difficult for me to understand. Orozco lives several months per year in Paris, but spends time also in New York City and Mexico City. Born in Mexico, he claims to be rootless , rejects the idea of regional or national identity and does not have a studio. He is known for his interactive works like "Ping Pond Table" (1998).

We are warned before entering to obey the orders given by the guards, two persons dressed in Mexican policemen uniforms, part of a performance called "Imported Guards" (2010). Is it supposed to be humoristic? The room appears dark and colorless (other than three to four paintings as above). I read again and again about the artist's statement, the transformation of the everyday object to make it reach a new artistic dimension. Duchamp? One step further?

The brochure describes also three lines: the floor, the market tables and the walls. I started to walk along the walls, and looked at photographs, drawings and paintings, without emotions, including in front of the photographs of the work called "My Hands Are My Heart" (1991), showing the hands of the artist molding clay to the shape of a heart in front of the torso of the artist, symbol-cliche.

On the tables, surrounded by a black line on the floor as described in the brochure, the viewer can look at a testimony to "ten year's sculptural experiment". I found that the residues of ten years of research were not that exciting: socks stuffed with papier mache looking like sad vegetables, ("Two Socks", 1995), a game of chess but skewed "Horses Running Endlessly" (1995), sculptures in terra-cotta evoking the relationship to the body, and constantly a guard in uniform warning the viewer not to cross the line. The visit becomes frustrating. Was this the goal? The visitor cannot interact with the works, they are staying out of reach. I thought "French Flies", (2010) was funny. Numerous flies flattened, each on a little piece of white clay, swatted by the artist last Summer when he was spending some time in the French countryside.

The third part, with the objects on the floor is definitely worse, maybe the objects are bigger: "La DS" of course is on display but the viewer cannot approach it. Then the objects succeed each other lying on the floor or hanging from the ceiling: shoebox (Empty Shoe Box, 1993), a running fan with toilet paper whirling around ("Toilet Ventilator", 1997), an elevator modified to fit the artist's body (Elevator, 1994), three arms in clay (Three Arms, 2005) , a torso (Torso, 2004) and more... all these objects modified by the artist to generate a new space and surprise the viewer.

The walls are transparent and I see the astonished passerbys taking a glimpse. I feel some relief upon leaving the Galerie Sud.

No photographs were allowed.
Photograph by the author made at the FIAC, "Trebol Time" (2005)

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