On view now at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, artist Iván Argote has traced a striking psycho, winding together disparate locales, global actions and fragments of a broader social narrative to understand and explore the world around us. The show, which draws on the artist’s range of actions and pieces investigating political action and history, offers a range of potentials for joining together global populations, often through a combination of art and action.
Argote’s work functions like a material essay of sorts, drawing on varying clumps of material and narrative fragments to construct a space that proposes poetic, sociological and political discussion on our relationship with history and our relationship with “the other.” Language is twisted and confounded, manipulated in a way that seems to both fragment meaning and open new avenues of understanding at the same time. Argote works obsessively at this juncture, opening spaces where states of duality and miscomprehension are not only welcomed, but embraced as the site where true collaboration and shared space can ultimately begin.
This strategy reaches a high point with his filmic work on view, which draws on the cities of Neiva, Colombia and Palembang Indonesia, a pair of exact antipodes (cities which occupy the precise opposite point on the globe from each other). Pointing out two locations that are quite literally as far from each other as they could possibly be on the planet, he links together hegemonic historical narratives, shared conditions of political and social struggle as a linking element. The voice throughout the show draws on these shared conditions, painting a picture of a world linked by political struggle in a manner that can only be understood through such disjointed acts of shared political and aesthetic investigation. This work is complemented by the artist’s physical objects, among them a series of pink slabs created in the artist’s studio and adorned with poems and thoughts, a selection of photographs documenting children in protest,
The film is folded throughout the exhibition, each time returning at another point of cultural collision and contextual underpinning to arrive at a portrait of two places joined by similar struggles. To the artist, the act of narrative-shaping is presented simultaneously as a space for political control and for a redefining of cultural agency. Argote’s pieces target the site of cultural hegemony, and the vague, underlying conditions that ultimately shape the conditions of power across the globe. In one work, the artist reflects on the political history of spaces in Colombia and Ukraine united through the corporate machinations of Kodak, ultimately outlining the impacts and effects of the company’s decision to change its manufacturing process during the Cold War.
For Argote, the site of artistic production is one which is constantly bound up in historical, social and political underpinnings, a note clearly informed by his parents’ work as political activists. Yet for Argote, as much as specific sites are indicative of the global struggle against capitalism, single objects and instances can equally work as a mode of connecting sites, of tracing this same struggle writ large across the surfaces of his works. To walk through this show is an experience of applied solidarity, an act of seeing how the same conditions ultimately bind together and mold a shared future for humanity.
The show closes July 28th.
— D. Creahan
Exhibition Site [Perrotin]