Presents Damián Ortega

Presents Damián Ortega

Public Art Fund

Photo by Seong Kwon

June 25, 2007

Public Art Fund presents
Damián Ortega
Obelisco Transportable

On view through October 28, 2007

Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park
Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, New York

Damián Ortega’s Obelisco Transportable, a variation on the traditional form of an obelisk, stands at the entrance to Central Park in New York. A 20-foot-tall, narrow, tapering object with a pyramidal top, Ortegas obelisk is on a grassy platform on wheels, as though it has been uprooted from a previous location and made portable. Since ancient times, when the form first emerged in Egypt, obelisks have served as a visible centerpiece of cities. Ortega characterizes Obelisco Transportable as “a mobile landmark” that one could potentially move anywhere to commemorate anything. It offers a pragmatic yet wryly playful approach to a global society in which the balance of power is constantly in flux, and in which populations shift and drift from one place to another.
Obelisco Transportable is also a nod to the ways in which public sculptures and monuments have historically been moved from one city to another. Ortega describes this as the “Napoleonic gesture,” in which the wartime victor plunders the monuments of captured cities and brings them back home to be installed in public there as a symbol of victory. Such transfers were meant to signal the rise of a new power and the demise of an older one, as well as an exchange of central and peripheral positions. Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park, for example, was originally created in Heliopolis, the ancient Egyptian city, more than 3,000 years ago. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was moved to Alexandria, where it remained for almost two millennia before being offered to the United States as a gift in the 19th century.

Ortega, who until just a few years ago was active as a political cartoonist in his native Mexico, creates sculptures, photographs, collages, and other works that tap into the poetic and symbolic resonance of everyday forms. Using wordplay, visual metaphors, and physical interventions, Ortega investigates the way in which objects serve as markers of cultural and political history. Among his best known works are the three pieces that make up “The Beetle Trilogy”–Cosmic Thing (2002), Moby Dick (2004-5), and Escarabajo (2005)–an epic series that revolves around the Volkswagen Bug as a ubiquitous icon of modernity.

Born in 1967 in Mexico City, Damián Ortega now lives and works Berlin. In 2003, his work was featured in the 50th Venice Biennale. His recent major solo shows include “The Beetle Trilogy and Other Works,” Gallery at REDCAT (The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theatre) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); “The Uncertainty Principle,” at Tate Modern, London (2005); “Damian Ortega,” at Kunsthalle Basel, Basel (2004); “Spirit and Matter,” White Cube, London (2004); “Damian Ortega,” Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; “Moby Dick,” kurimanzutto, Mexico City; and “Damian Ortega: Cosmic Thing,” ICA Philadelphia, Philadelphia (2002).
Location and Directions Obelisco Transportable is on view at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, at the entrance to Central Park. Subways: N, R to Fifth Avenue; 4, 5, 6 to 59th St/Lexington Ave. The work is free to the public and is on view daily.
Doris C. Freedman Plaza is named for the founder of the Public Art Fund and has been the site of more than 50 artist projects and commissions, featuring works by both internationally known and emerging artists including Liz Larner, Sarah Sze, Paul McCarthy, and Mark Handforth.
Public Art Fund is New Yorks leading presenter of artists’ projects, new commissions, installations and exhibitions in public spaces. For 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been committed to working with emerging and established artists to produce innovative exhibitions of contemporary art throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, the Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time.

Recent and current critically acclaimed exhibitions and presentations by Public Art Fund include “The World Is Round,” a group exhibition at MetroTech Center in Brooklyn (on view through September 9, 2007); Alexander Calder in New York at City Hall Park (on view through October 2007); Sarah Morris’s Robert Towne at Lever House (2006-7); Nina Katchadourians Office Semaphore at Chase Manhattan Plaza (2006-7); Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center (2006); Sarah Sze’s Corner Plot at Doris C. Freedman Plaza (2006); and Nancy Rubins’s Big Pleasure Point at Lincoln Center (2006).

Public Art Fund is a non-profit arts organization supported by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with public funds from National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

This exhibition is made possible through the cooperation of the City of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor; Patricia E. Harris, First Deputy Mayor; and Department of Parks & Recreation, Adrian Benepe, Commissioner.

Special thanks to kurimanzutto, Mexico City.

Press contact:
Stacy Bolton Communications
(212) 721-5350

Abby Clark
Public Art Fund
(212) 980-4575

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Public Art Fund
June 25, 2007

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