XAS, Tildee, February 11, 2014
Edgar Orlaineta, one of the artists selected by Juan Gaitán in Zona Maco Sur, was selected as the 2014 recipient of 1800 Collection Award by the selection committee, which was comprised of three Mexico City-based curators: Marisol Argüelles, Curator, Museum of Modern Art; Daniel Garza Usabiaga, Curator, Museo El Chopo and Carlos Palacios, Curator, Carrillo Gil Museum. He presented recent works, some of which were included in his 2013 solo exhibitions at Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City and El Chopo, Mexico City.
XAS: How was the selection of the works presented at Zona Maco Sur and your relationship with Juan Gaitán?
EO: Steve Turner, my gallerist, was the one in contact with Juan Gaitán. I only met him personally until I was installing at Zona Maco, all our communication prior to the fair was via email but as you see the project for the booth worked out good. I had full freedom to select the works; I did a selection that covered different media and aspects of my work.
XAS: How do you feel about the difference between having thought the exhibition at Museo del Chopo, as a metaphor of a commercial display and actually, presenting (some pieces) at an art fair?
EO: When I did the exhibition at Chopo, I was thinking about historical industrial fairs or exhibitions, like world exhibitions that function as a kind of propaganda, they promote a country´s potential but they don’t really sell it directly, it is only after the fairs that business and commercial dialogues occur.
The experience in an art fair, in a curated booth, is the same as any other space for me. I don’t think of the commercial aspect, because selling or not selling doesn´t mean the work is good or bad. There are different factors that make a work successful at an art fair, of course I believe good work has better chances of selling but this is not the rule. I took the space as any other space and never thought of the commercial outcome.
XAS: Can you talk us about the new piece: “Hang-them-all” (2014)?
EO: I have been working with kachinas(1) as a motive for a while, I have done different pieces in the past but this one includes several of my interests such as colonization, modern design and craft. The work is about the colonization in North America and its devastating effect on Native population: not only did the loss of land destroyed their social structure but also their culture and traditions. The southwestern Indian Pueblos of US, such as the Hopi and the Zuñi, lost most of their ritual objects, which were extracted in different ways to become part of private collections. These objects were sold out of need. Kachinas (Hopi and Zuñi) were ritual dolls and ritual costumes that represented super natural beings. The surrealists were fond of them, Georgia O’Keeffe painted them, Sophie Taeuber-Arp made a ball costume based on their design and shape, and designers like Charles Eames and Alexander Girard collected them. “Hang them all” is an installation piece based on a popular coat rack (Hang it all) designed by Charles Eames; the installation features more than 100 wood pieces shaped after Kachina dolls outline, these wood pieces are wrapped with silk thread and hang passively from the metal racks. The work is a tribute to the pueblos in the southwest of US and at the same time a censure to the colonial practices that native cultures still suffer in many places.
XAS: Why do you think is important to reinterpret symbolic images and pieces from the modernity period?
EO: Using images or motives from modernity has served me as a vehicle to discuss different things, but I am not romantic about this or other specific periods in history, the reinterpretation of these images it is just a way of working that encourages me to comment on different things in different manners, sometimes through an object or through the use of information that I find in books or archives. Of course, I believe it is important to look back in a way to understand our present days, specially when the history that we know is not as accurate as we think, most of the times in my research I discover a lot of contradictions, paradoxes, inaccuracies or lost poetic stories that I turn into propositions.
XAS: Could you talk about the photos and their selection?
EO: “Pin-up-topia” is a parallel object to my work; it is a collection of photos with specific conditions that dialogues directly with my sculptural work. “Pin-up-topia” is a collection of original pin-up photos where a modern furniture element is featured; every photo includes a semi-naked model posing along with a chair, table, or lamp that we recognize as “modern”. The photos are framed in a composition, which have a theme by their own, either historical, stylistic or material. The first photo was found in Upstate New York in 2005 on a garage sale but most of them have been bought on the Internet.
XAS: How do you manage the conflict between arts and crafts and “Art” present on your pieces?
EO: There is no conflict, at least not for me. A lot of people get confused but this situation is interesting because it creates tensions about how should the work is read and also how it exists. Craft is just a technique for me and I also use it as content, but most of my work is conceptual; it is born from a concept or concepts in tension. Craft, in my work, is just the test of sincerity, as Ezra Pound once said: Technique is the test of sincerity. If a thing isn’t worth getting the technique to say, it is of inferior value.
XAS: What are the implications of having received the Tequila 1800 Prize of Collection?
EO: To become part of a collection is always a good feeling, it is meaningful and important in many ways, the recognition of your work is good for the spirit specially when the competition is as big and good as in Zona Maco. I am happy about the prize and I will use this moment to continue working in a more relaxed way.
XAS: What is next?
EO: I have a couple of group shows in the US: Global Latin America: Design, Art and Craft, 2000-2013 at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC; MetaModern to open on 2015 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; The De Vos Art Museum, Krannert Art Museum, North Michigan University, Marquette; and the Cincinnati Art Museum including artists such as: Elmgreen & Dragset (SE), Terence Gower (CA), Brian Jungen (CA), Josiah McElheny (US), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (US), Gabriel Sierra (CO), Simon Starling, among others. A solo show at Steve Turner Contemporary in L.A. in September this year, and next month we go to Milan for another curated booth at Miart after an invitation from the curator Abaseh Mirvali, where I will show a new project entitled SUSPENDED which will consist of works inspired by Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s works, interests, femininity, and avant-garde spirit.
Edgar Orlaineta (Mexico, 1972) received an MFA from Pratt Institute, New York (2004) and a BFA from Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, Mexico City (1998). He has had solo exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara; LAXART, Los Angeles; Casa Estudio Luis Barragan, Mexico City; Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City and Museo El Chopo, Mexico City.
(1) a deified ancestral spirit in the mythology of Pueblo Indians.