Damián Ortega

Damián Ortega

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Damián Ortega, Controller of the Universe, 2007. Courtesy White Cube. © Damián Ortega. Photo: Stephen White. 

May 28, 2015

Damián Ortega

5 June–8 November 2015

Opening: 4 June, 7pm

Via Chiese 2 
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 11am–11pm
Free admission

T +39 02 6611 1573
info [​at​] hangarbicocca.org

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Curated by Vicente Todolí

From 5 June to 8 November, HangarBicocca, Pirelli’s contemporary art space, presents Casino, the first solo exhibition in Italy by Damián Ortega. Curated by Vicente Todolí, the retrospective exhibition is devoted to one of the most interesting and ironic artists on the contemporary scene, offering a sweeping view of his various artistic forms. These include sculpture, installations and films, as well as a performance which will be staged during the opening on 4 June. The exhibition includes 19 works, ranging from small to large scale, that dialogue with the “Shed” space in HangarBicocca. 

Over the past 20 years, Damián Ortega (b. 1967, Mexico City) has made his mark as one of the most significant artists on the international contemporary art scene, whose work reformulates the very idea of sculpture, in which representation becomes aggregation and deconstruction. Matter, energy and transformations are the concepts at the heart of his artistic research, which gives the exhibition its title: Casino. In Ortega’s view, the universe appears as a complex physical system, and one not entirely controllable by man. 

Using irony filled with meaning, and objects from everyday life, Damián Ortega conveys even the most challenging issues concerning the world of production, processes of transforming matter, entropy and the relationship between sculpture, space and architecture. With an interest in materials and in the sculptural quality of objects, he appropriates everyday or salvaged materials, such as pickaxes and tools, which he alters and deconstructs in order to reveal their hidden components and their symbolic and sometimes irreverent aspects. This can be seen in the Volkswagen Beetle, around which Cosmic Thing, 2002, revolves, as part of The Beetle Trilogy, which is being shown in its entirety at HangarBicocca. For Cosmic Thing, the Beetle is broken down into all its component parts and exploded in space to recreate its form. The trilogy also includes the film Escarabajo, 2005, in which the artist buries a Volkswagen Beetle in the city where it was made, and a performance entitled Moby Dick, 2004, during which he engages in a “physical fight” with an old white Beetle. 

The artist’s scepticism of blind trust in technological innovation, which time transforms into old-fashioned, obsolete forms, is well conveyed by Controller of the Universe, 2007, an explosion of tools such as saws, pickaxes and rakes, in a sample collection of paleo-technology. 

Ortega is interested in the structure of matter and in the processes of its transformation, just as he is in that of conservation. Estratigrafía 4, 2012, the shape of which somehow recalls that of a fossil, is a sphere consisting of posters and glue, which is then cut in half. Challenging the limits of the absurd with pseudo-scientific experiments, Ortega presents Elote clasificado, 2005, in which he attributes a number to each grain of a dried corncob. In Hollow/Stuffed: market law, 2012, he creates a small replica of a submarine with biodegradable plastic sacks full of salt hanging from the ceiling on steel cables.

Casino is part of HangarBicocca’s programme of exhibitions created by Vicente Todolí and Andrea Lissoni. It  is being shown together with the solo exhibition by Juan Muñoz, which will run until 23 August 2015, and later with the Philippe Parreno exhibition (22 October 2015 to 14 February 2016). 

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Pirelli HangarBicocca
May 28, 2015

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