Rodrigo Valenzuela’s Critical Images of Polystyrene Constructions
“Past | Present”, Rodrigo Valenzuela’s newest solo exhibition is comprised of two parts: a selection of work from major series in photography, video and painting created between 2013 and 2018; and the debut of a new body of monochromatic photographs titled “Stature”.
This last series extends practices Valenzuela has refined over the past five years. Studio constructions (or “performances for the camera,” as the artist calls them) are built and rebuilt purely to be photographed from a fixed perspective.
The artist makes the enclosing stage, and every object within, by casting concrete and clay from discarded consumer electronics packaging. The cast objects are not glued or affixed to each other, but are balanced in tenuous arrangements that vary from abstract to highly anthropomorphic “monsters.”
The choices of polystyrene forms and concrete as medium provide Valenzuela an indirect means to explore the discards and inversions of capitalist endeavor. As in his previous four series of photographed studio constructions, the artist embeds numerous references that interest and influence him, from surrealist painting to Latin American brutalist architecture to Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s images of post-Soviet era bus stops.
The layering of social critique, art historical awareness, re-evaluation of the traditions of documentary photography, and sheer playfulness are typical of Valenzuela.