The Shakiest of Things


kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga

curated by Zane Onckule
Q: As a sport for myself let me list the methods you use: it starts with a certain story, an author or an article of historical reference; then a colour– the recurrent presence of yellow, blue, black and other deep hues are applied; then- at times a geometry with references spanning from ancient Aztec to Greek to cosmology to Russian constructivism..

A: ..there would be parts of everything that you mentioned in my reaction to this list, but I would also say that there are a bit too many words. The first thing I thought of when reading this was the title of one of my favourite Microscripts: “The words I’d like to utter”, but maybe that would be a bad answer.

Q: No, it wouldn’t be. Although I missed the important one - the paper as material itself, caught in various situations – mise-en-scenes of your projects, one following the next. It does seem like it’ s not so much the content and baggage of the references as the materiality itself that interests you: it's touch, thinness or the marks left by ink, pen or pencil.

A: Let’s put it like this: paper is something easy to approach as both substance and body simultaneously, or as either one of them back and forth. It’s something that gains and loses meaning all the time so it really has a tendency to stay in an ambiguous position. With paper you can’t help but be a reader and a “toucher” at all times, or, -as you prefer to see it- be just one of the two and not the other at a given moment, even in spite of your will or of the circumstances.

(Excerpt from conversation between artist Rodrigo Hernandez and curator Zane Onckule on the occasion of the exhibition)

While German philosopher Walter Benjamin has pointed out two of the characteristics of Robert Walser’s microscripts: “a complete insignificance of content and the denial of style”, Latvian Jānis Taurens notes, that (reading Walser), “You feel that something is amiss, it seems, he isn’t writing right, as one should, and then, at this very moment, you catch yourself in that feeling, and it seduces you.”

In preparation for the exhibition and all the while dimensionally approaching the limits of legibility of a condensed (writing) format, Rodrigo Hernandez has collected anonymous drawings-scribbles by children published on the Internet. Made into a small collection it became the basis of a new series of work combining materials of earlier use as well as new/unexpected ones aimed at creating new meanings. This seemingly humble archive of anonymous drawings appears liberating as it is used in the exact same way in which the artist might use his own personal theme and material repertoire – free to alter and transform without any particular piety, focus or an artistic agenda, directed by a specific message.

Also the installation time in Riga has a touch of experimental treatment of “studio work”, that is, central exhibition work is created in-situ in the kim? exhibition rooms: a site-specific installation of papier-mâché, that includes the architecture of the space, as well as engages the younger audience – children – in the making of the art work.

Working with paper pulp is time-consuming, which turns an exhibition into an event that unfolds in time; although marginal and elusive to the eyes, however, change occurs throughout – as the material is drying out completely. The process itself, again, is associated with Walser’s Microscripts through its characteristic deficiencies and its “chaotic dispersal”, which, in turn, confirms the artist's interest in themes such as perception, the message, imagination and uncertainty, all in its various forms of representation.