Sunday, January 17, 2010

12 to go

Erick Beltrán, State of Things (Strategy and Counterstrategy), 2010

Preliminary sketch for an interactive installation at the Print Center.

Dear friends:
Barcelona-based Mexican artist Erick Beltrán arrived today. He will be doing a project at the Print Center, especially conceived for Philagrafika.
Beltrán's work delves into how information is put together and organized, by whom and to what ends, and so his projects often expose the randomness and arbitrariness of such ordering principles and taxonomies. The library, the archive and the museum are constant sources of inspiration -or rather his points of departure. He deconstructs visual systems to address issues like editing and cultural translation; his works insert themselves like viruses into existing information systems, and often explore the threshold of legibility and chaos.

La Nación Inverted, 2006.

Correo do Povo (negative), 2006.

He has done subtle but radical interventions in printed media, like removing all punctuation marks on the entire edition of a newspaper in Brazil and replacing them with the tiny icon of a running man; removing altogether all punctuation marks on a Dutch newspaper; printing a Brazilian newspaper in negative; or printing a newspaper in Chile with texts and words inverted (La Nación Inverted, 2006). In these works, Beltrán breaks the communicative role of the news, highlighting the quality of the paper as a tridimensional object, devoid of its role as purveyor of information. The Encyclopedia being the embodiment of universal culture -whose hierarchies follow specific sociopolitical agendas- it has been a subject for Beltrán's recent projects. He has culled information from the mass media and reordered it following his own system (Encyclopedia, 2005); edited a 300-page newspaper that explains "how ideas are gathered together", a sort of snapshot of the maturation of an argument and the process of constructing a discourse (Ostwald Ripening, 2006) ; or asked the public to provide the content of an encyclopedia of non-specialized knowledge, which got processed and printed in real time (The World Explained, for the 2008 Sao Paulo Bienal).

The World Explained, 2008.

Ostwald's Ripening, 2006.

His project for the Print Center is titled State of Things (Strategy and Counterstrategy), and will be a hands-on model (like the one in a war room) where viewers can rearrange "armies" of symbols in attempt to give visual form to the current news. A blackboard with diagrams explaining the strategies will also be part of the piece. John Caperton, curator at the Print Center, is managing the myriad details of this complex project.

José Roca

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