(Published in Artnexus, No.99. December 2015- February 2016.)
With the title Jonier Marín: Active Work, Manhattan’s Henrique Faria Fine Art presents a solo exhibition of works by this Colombian-born
artist. The show has an anthology vocation, as it brings together a selection of key works in the artist’s career, specifically some of his interventions known globally as Obra activa (Active Work).
In the first room of the gallery we find Money Art Service (1973/2015), Milano Clock (1973/2015), Neruda (c. 1973), Cosa Mentale (1972/2015) and Incommunicable (1974/2015). Two kinds of works comprise this selection: one set with a more introspective character, focused on the subject, like Neruda and Cosa Mentale; a second set more linked to urban intervention. Perhaps it is Incomunicable that best summarizes the spirit and the conceptual premises of this second set, based on performance actions and photography. The artist set up on several Bogotá streets a billboard displaying only the word Incomunicable, written backwards, and photographed and recorded the reactions of passers-by. Shown in the gallery are the photographs (with the text in the right position and the scene backwards) and the billboard (backwards, as it was in the street). In these works, performance is taken beyond the streets and the creative event continues in the gallery, where viewers are prompted to participate and interact with it as subjects confronted with the same sign that the passers-by in the original piece encountered. On the other hand, we understand, given the works’ dates, their “infinite” ability to be recreated at different times and to restate their point about communication.
The series of drawings Video-Pintura (Video-Painting, 1980) is on exhibit in the gallery’s second room. It comprises a group of projects that explore the dual potential of a TV set, both as a device for the transmission and video image and as a physical artifact that can be incorporated into a sculptural and/or installative medium. We also see here the materialization of just one of these projects, with the video- installation Extravideo (1975), where potted plant is placed on top of a monitor showing a video representation of its roots. This work is exemplary of the explorations of the videographic medium that characterized the decade in which it was made, and it underscores video’s ability to transmit in real time, as well as its malleability in becoming an effective component in a sculptural proposal that conjugates the virtual and the physical in its assemblage. A vibrant composition possessed of a certain lyricism in its condition as “living art”.
In the same space we encounter a presentation of Rasgar (To Rip) originally performed in Zurich in 1972. This work consisted in an action where a woman situated in front of a blackboard rips in half a sheet of white paper that has been placed on it. What is exhibited here are photographs documenting the action, the last one a testimony of the material traces of the event (the ripped piece of paper). Also on exhibit are the material evidences of the recreation of the performance on the show’s opening night. The final result is different, since the action produces in each instance a unique outcome, infused with its own aesthetic qualities.
Between these two rooms we find a presentation of Marín’s Video- post project. Here, as in other works, the artist establishes an effective dialog between two modes of expression; in this case, mail art and video. Marín asked a number of artists in different countries to send him, by regular mail, instructions for the creation of a three-minute video. The materials were later exhibited together as a single sequence of approximately one hour, along with the initial projects for each video, in São Paulo in 1977. The gesture was intended as a meditation on new media and traditional modes of communication, and an interesting statement about authorship and originality.
The quality of the curatorial proposal in this exhibition deserves special mention. It was able to present different series of works in an effective and fluid manner, with display solutions that cohered with each project and informative tables about them.