Through the Frontier
Miguel Ángel Ríos:
From April 9 til June 30, 2013
Through the Frontier comprises a new video by Miguel Ángel Ríos finished in 2012, and a series of drawings made during the research and production phases of the piece. It deals with specific issues such as, an examining of the documentary character as a core idea, a drift toward rural peripheral areas, the giving up of leisure/play as a protagonist, as well as, stressing the distance between the institution of art and the Latin American heartland.
Considered one of the pioneers of concept of the “Latin American” as an artistic strategy and political problem, Ríos creates a narrative through the scenic boundaries of different geographical areas in Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Originally conceived as a three-screen projection, “The Ghost of Modernity” describes—following the cube as guide and intellectual witness—a raw visual journey through the crude and forgotten areas of the continent. But at the same time, it positions itself in relation to art criticism and history.
By reclaiming the cube as a symbol of the modern and of the pictorial boundaries that distinguished the white on white debate regarding the history of Western art, Miguel Angel Ríos makes a sharp blow to macro-discursive claims.
In contrast with his last videos, the artist abandons themes of the explicitly violent and the seduction of play, in order to explore the strategies of a leisurely and dusty cinematic time frame, unaware of the dynamic and bloody mechanisms of the global economy. In this way, Ríos returns to an inquiry on political identity, which underlies the Viewpoint of the Vanquished.
“The Ghost of Modernity” reinforces Ríos’ interest in cinematic narrative as an eyewitness of political thought in our socio-economic sphere. The work goes beyond the documentary qualities that make possible the innovative potential of the medium, without disregarding a critical understanding of the passage of time and its indifference toward post-colonial contrasts.
Nonetheless, an ironic surprise and humor will fall on the viewer. These are techniques that Ríos has explored in his artistic production, especially in the works devoted to the effects of drugs from traditional cultures, the exploitation of which lurk as confrontation and/or supplement of the purely existential in contemporary culture. Ríos’ proposal is one of confrontation, a process that starts in the conceptualization of narrative of the video and turns to the social sphere that shapes its form.
In the work presented on the upper galleries of the museum the artist seems to fight against the traditional concept of “studio.” This is a clash between the possibilities of drawing as an object versus the history that contains it; but also, between drawing as a medium and the reality that his video presents.
Ríos is one of those artists for whom the notion of displacement has marked his way of thinking; ideas that shine through his work, but curiously maintain his production at the edges of the Latin American continent. Hence Through the Frontier can be seen as a significant moment in the long career of this artist.