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May 29 2013

Gabriel Orozco at Kurimanzutto, Mexico City

For his current exhibition at Kurimanzutto Gallery in Mexico City, artist Gabriel Orozco decided to work with river stones. Orozco is a passionate collector of things. This time he decided to collect something that nature prepared over many, many years and re-use it and give it a new meaning. The exhibition runs until June 15, 2013.

Upcoming solo exhibition of Gabriel Orozco include Kunsthaus Bregenz (July 7 – October 6, 2013) and Edinburgh Art Festival Exhibition, Fruit Market Gallery (August 1 – October 20, 2013).

Gabriel Orozco at Kurimanzutto, Mexico City. Opening, April 13, 2013. Video by Diego García Sotomoro.

For more videos on Gabriel Orozco, such as Gabriel Orozco’s Retrospective at Kunstmuseum Basel, visit our archive.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

Excerpt from the press release:

The artist—always watchful—comes across the stones. Ordinary river stones; but, it should be noted, of an inter- esting size: not your typical pebble that fits in the palm of your hand, but stones similar in size—also because of their oval form—to a football.
It is highly unlikely that the idea of how they would be later intervene emerged clearly in that first moment, but there is something in the objects (their colours, their drawings, their size) that replenishes the creative impulse; that is to say, that places the artist one more time at the beginning of something. For Orozco, this is how the process starts: based on a hypothesis that defines a provisional working course. That is why the work is always the how it could be, not the how it should be.
The stone, in any case, is a variation of a theme to which this artist constantly comes back to in his work: the circle—and all its derivatives: the sphere, the balloon, the ball, the disc, the wheel, the planet, the orbit. It is there, at the centre of the circle, where Orozco likes to pinpoint the beginning of things; a beginning that aims in all direc- tions—unlike the immovable unidirectionality of the straight line. And that is why in his work we find oranges, tires, soccer balls, billiard balls, sand balls, melons and all kinds of objects close to the sphere: potatoes, watermelons, mixiotes1, seeds, hands that are the heart. Because they are bodies that speak of what the circle speaks: of mobil- ity, of cycles, of game, of fullness, of rotation, etc.
This stones are made to be touched: that is why the drawings are not superimposed, they penetrate the stone. Although, well-regarded, a cleft is actually nothing but a space that occupies a place in matter. But occupies it conversely to graphite: here the void is not the organic form that is left free from drawing, it is the gap itself that produces the drawing. So, it is not about just a void, but a void where there used to be something: more stone. But that which diminishes the original materiality is precisely that which increases the sense of the work (it stops being a stone to become a sculpture). You might say, an exchange of substances. The less stone the more sculp- ture, the stone collaborates here becoming a drawing itself.
Nevertheless, the dialog between two sculpting forms stays intact: that of nature, which makes the stone go from a rough and jagged rock to a polished cobblestone; and that of the artist, who, as we have already stated, is the one that cuts (literally, with a sharp diamond tip).



July 09 2012

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms / Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin is the last exhibition in Deutsche Guggenheim’s commission program. For this show, Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco has created sculptural and photographic installations from the rubble he gathered on two sites in New York and in Baja California, Mexico.

The objects that are displayed on a platform are detritus that Gabriel Orozco gathered at a playing field in New York City. When picking up a boomerang, he noticed the small pieces of rubbish that were lying on the surface of the playing field: rubber bands, labels, coins, etc. He started to collect and categorize them. Gabriel Orozco gave the work the name Astroturf Constellation, referencing the Astroturf of the playing field on Pier 40 in New York.

The second installation is entitled Sandstars. The objects that are spread out on the floor of the Deutsche Guggenheim’s exhibition space come from a protected coastal biosphere and wildlife reserve in Isla Arena, Mexico. This place is also the endpoint of flows of industrial and commercial waste from across the Pacific Ocean: glass bottles, lightbulbs, hard hats, stones, etc. Gabriel Orozco has been there before. From the sands of the wildlife reserve he extracted the whale skeleton that formed the sculpture Mobile Matrix (2006). Sandstars consists of 1,200 objects that now form a monumental sculptural carpet on the gallery floor.

The sculptural work is accompanied by large-scale gridded photographs of images of the individual objects. Gabriel Orozco photographed the objects under natural lighting conditions in his studio and then arranged them according to their material, color, size, etc.

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms is the 18th and final project in the Deutsche Guggenheim’s commission program that started in 1997. Among the participating artists of the program are John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, William Kentridge, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Andreas Slominski, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Viola, Phoebe Washburn, Lawrence Weiner, Jeff Wall, and Rachel Whiteread.

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms is curated by Nancy Spector (Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum) and Joan Young (Director, Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum). This video provides you with a tour of the exhibition during the press preview, an introduction to the exhibition by Joan Young, and some atmospheric shots of the opening reception.

More information about the exhibition is also available in the current issue of DB Artmag.

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms. Solo exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. Interview with Joan Young (Director, Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum). Press preview and opening reception, July 5, 2012.

PS: In 2010, the Kunstmuseum Basel presented a major survey of the work of Gabriel Orozco: Gabriel Orozco Retrospective at Kunstmuseum Basel. Click here for the related video.

PPS: Click here to see a video including a cover version of Gabriel Orozco’s famous work La D.S. (a sliced silver Citroën DS) by Aleksandra Mir.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:


February 07 2011

Watching Gabriel Orozco's box

In New York it was manhandled, in Venice they left money in it. How are visitors to Tate Modern reacting to Gabriel Orozco's exhibit Empty Shoe Box (1993)?

"Is it plastic? Is it wood?" A group of six-year-olds from Osmani primary school in Tower Hamlets is standing round an abandoned shoebox, and wondering what it's made of. "No!" cries one of them, finally. "It's cardboard!" But the eureka moment is fleeting. Seconds later, one of them wants the answer to a more urgent question: "What's the box doing here?"

And well might he ask. For our shoebox is not nestling on the carpet of an Office, a Russell & Bromley, or even a Clarks. Rather, it's gracing the floor of a gallery within Britain's most significant collection of contemporary art: Tate Modern.

It's also not just any old empty shoebox. This is Empty Shoe Box (1993), the work of Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, a sculptor known for his treatment of "found objects". For the last two weeks, this plain, white box has formed part of the country's first full retrospective of Orozco's career. It is being exhibited alongside a selection of tyres; a lift ripped from a Chicago tower block; a knot of four entwined bicycles; a ball of melted inner-tubes; and a vintage Citroën that Orozco has reduced to half its original width.

But it's the box that is attracting all the attention – or none, depending on your point of view. Unlike other items on show, the box is not surrounded by "do not touch" signs, or otherwise marked as an artwork. Gallery-goers either don't see it in time, and kick it over – or they notice it, presume it's not part of the exhibition, and give it a prod just to make sure. As Jessica Morgan, the exhibition's curator, tells me: "The box is a confusing thing. It's intended to make you pause and think about what it might be doing there."

At the Venice Biennale, where the box was first shown in 1993, people reacted by leaving money in it. At New York's Museum of Modern Art, where it was last shown, the box was apparently often manhandled. But how is London taking to it? And could an eight-year-old make something better? I spend a day with the box to find out.

Box-watching initially proves uneventful. A lot of people simply don't notice it, and breeze past. Some clock it vaguely, but – with that weary-yet-unwavering shuffle peculiar to gallery visitors – they drift on, apparently uninterested. In a room that also contains an abandoned lift, a screwed-up car, and a knot of bicycles, perhaps a simple box is unremarkable. Nevertheless, a few do crouch next to it, squint, re-assert that, yes, this is a box – and then move on. Some look around frantically for a descriptive placard, eventually finding it on a wall 10ft away. They also then leave immediately, satisfied at this perfunctory explanation.

But no one commits an outlandish act such as stamping on the box or wearing it as a hat– and so I ask for anecdotes from the Tate's various visitor assistants. On the exhibition's opening day, one tells me, a cleaner thought the box was a bit of rubbish and left it on a pile of debris. "It's a shame you didn't come at the weekend," another assistant says. "It'll be kicked all over the place."

But finally, on the stroke of lunch, carnage strikes. Nanna Neudeck, a 27-year-old artist, charges into the box, kicking it several centimetres. She gets a stern ticking-off from an attendant, but claims she didn't realise the box was part of the exhibition. Only afterwards does Neudeck admit she thought "it might be an artwork". But "because the box doesn't look like art, and because there are no markings around it, then Orozco obviously wants you to interact with it. So I did."

The box is soon repositioned but it's not long before mayhem resumes. In a display of shocking intellectual defiance, two visitors, in two separate incidents, drop morsels of litter into the box. First, a grey-haired man jettisons what appears to be a chewing-gum wrapper. And then, minutes later, a woman in her senior years throws in a scrunched-up tissue.

I corner them both, and it emerges that they're friends: Tony, a former darkroom technician, and Danielle, a retired teacher. They have known each other since the late 60s, and regularly visit exhibitions together.

Danielle says their dual-pronged act of litter-loutery constituted a symbolic rejection of what she believes Orozco's work stands for: the violation of objects. "The car, he's violated that," she says. "Those bikes, they can't move any more, so it's like he's killed them. He's violated all these objects – so I've turned his box into a dustbin."

Danielle's litter isn't discovered for 10 minutes – but once it is found, by security guard Jim, the rigmarole that follows is hilarious. Jim informs Martha, the visitor assistant. In turn, Martha calls her manager, and three minutes later, the manager strides in to survey the terrain. She approaches the box. She inspects it – and then leaves, presumably in search of special tissue-extraction utensils. Two minutes later, she returns, armed with rubber gloves. Finally, nine minutes after the litter was first reported, she extracts the offending Kleenex. For good measure, she also whips out a floor-plan, and checks the box is still positioned at precisely the right angle.

It's an episode that highlights the most provocative thing about the box: the tension it creates between visitor and gallery. The box attracts attention through its ordinariness, but for the viewer, this ordinariness is not interesting in itself; only the interaction between the box and the gallery-goer that such ordinariness subsequently seems to allow, and even solicit, is interesting. The gallery, however, is less concerned with what the box's dullness enacts; its primary interest is the dullness itself. The box is on loan to the Tate; as a result, the gallery's main concern is that the box remains intact, even if this ends up discouraging the interaction that the box was intended to invite.

Morgan argues the box originates from a much simpler idea. Orozco, she says, uses boxes like this one to store his projects in. "So he thought of the box as a thing that contained ideas. And that's still his perspective on the piece: it's a shoebox you can fill with ideas." And it is ideas that those inquisitive six-year-olds are being encouraged to take from the exhibition. Their teacher Piyara hopes Orozco's box will show the children that anything can be art – and that they, too, can be artists. "When it comes to drawing," she tells the class, "some of you go, 'Oh, I can't draw, my drawing doesn't look very nice.' But that's not the point of the drawing – it's meant to be about you. Look at that box. Some of you might not like it – but that comes from the artist. That's what he wanted." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

April 20 2010

Gabriel Orozco Retrospective at Kunstmuseum Basel

Until August 2010, the Kunstmuseum Basel presents a major survey of the work of Gabriel Orozco. The retrospective shows installations, sculptures, photographs, paintings and drawings by the Mexican artist, created since the early 1990s.

Among the works on display is one of Gabriel Orozco’s most famous works, La D.S.. La D.S. is a silver Citroën DS that has been sliced into three pieces lengthwise. The middle section was removed and the two remaining pieces were reassembled as a one seater. The result is an arrow-like car / sculpture, with a width 63.5 cm less than the original.

Also among the exhibits is one of his Working Tables, 1991-2006, from the collection of the Kunstmuseum Basel, that gathers a wide variety of small sculptures and found pieces.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr. Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, Director of the Kunstmuseum Basel. The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Basel, Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Tate Modern, London.

Gabriel Orozco was in Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico in 1962. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City, and at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain. Gabriel Orozco has participated in the Venice Biennale in 1993, 2003, and 2005, the Whitney Biennial in 1995 and 1997, as well as Documenta X (1997) and Documenta XI (2002).

Gabriel Orozco at Kunstmuseum Basel. Press Preview and Vernissage, April 16/17, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

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