A Sense of Possibility


Weingrüll, Karlsruhe

curated by Roos Gortzak

  • Is your work about Mariachi?
  • How do you mean Mariachi?
  • You know this thing beautifully decorated and filled with sweets that you are supposed to break open with a stick?
  • Ah, you mean a piñata…

It is Sunday night and I am having a conversation with Rodrigo in the gallery. We are not having this conversation, he tells me about it. It was an exchange he recently had with another Dutch woman, a fellow research artist at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. It reminds me of the interview Marcel Broodthaers had with a cat in 1970, which starts as follows:

  • Est-ce que c’est un bon tableau celui-là, qui correspond à ce que vous attendez de cette transformation toute récente qui va du Conceptual Art à cette nouvelle version d’une certaine figuration pourrait-on dire?
  • Miaou.
  • Vous croyez?
  • Miaaaaauoaaaauo, miaaaaauo, miaaaou.

It is not the content that made me think of it but the form: two species communicating, trying to understand one another. I remember another story Rodrigo told me this autumn when we were having drinks at my balcony and talking about his work. It was a story by meditation guru S.N. Goenka about a boy who came to visit his blind friend and told him about what he had just experienced:

  • I just had a delicious rice pudding!
  • What is rice pudding?
  • It is something white.
  • But what is white?

And trying to find a way to describe white he grabbed a white duck passing by and handed it over to his blind friend, saying:
  • This is white, for example.
  • So white is soft?
  • No, no, try again.

And touching the duck again from the peak to the back, he said:
  • Oh I get it now, white is crooked!

Having sat down today behind my computer to write a press release, I thought it would be more interesting to share these stories with you. Closer also to Rodrigo’s work, which isn’t about getting it, about fixating meaning but about keeping things open, in a contingent state. For those of you who have seen Rodrigo’s work when he was still studying here at the academy in Karlsruhe, you might recognize certain motives: the white paper cup, the disembodied head, the amorphous objects out of rice paper, the structures referring to architecture. More importantly, you might recognize a certain set-up, a kind of two- or three-dimensional riddle, in which the motives function like letters in an alphabet, although they are never exactly the same. The riddle isn’t there to be solved. It is there to invite you, or at least that is my interpretation, to reflect on the arrangements we currently have in place in order to understand one another. Objective truths are not what we find at the basis of knowledge, but rather a set of agreements that make us believe we have a grasp on the world.  It is like the man standing in front of a glass sliding door, who figures in several of Rodrigo’s drawings and paintings in this show. The man is looking at his own reflection, but when approaching it, the doors open and the image disappears. To quote René Magritte, whose 1929 article “Les mots et les images” (in which he explores the relationship between an object, its image and the title it is given) is one of Rodrigo’s departing points: “We see the world as being outside ourselves, although it is only a mental representation of it that we experience inside ourselves.”

Last summer when I was writing a review for a Mexican magazine on Rodrigo’s show in Luzern, Rodrigo sent me a link to a video in which curator Giovanni Carmine says that “thinking is just finding new connections between things that you didn’t think were connected.” I like how this can be seen as a motto for looking at Rodrigo´s show. More recently he sent me a link to an audio work by poet and critic Quinn Latimer for Marisa Merz’s show at the Serpentine Gallery in London. It struck me how much it could have functioned as an audio for Rodrigo’s works. I’ll finish this text here with the last words of Quinn’s audio piece: “What greets you as your eyes close, what opens, what extraordinarily thing?”

Roos Gortzak