Salto del Agua, a collaborative undertaking by conceptual artist Anton Vidokle and sound engineer Cristian Manzutto, is a super 8 film of an urban structure in Mexico City exhibited as a 16 mm projection with sound. The building, a highly figured, modular, late modernist structure erected in 1969, is one of several constructed by subway union workers and located at the Salto del Agua metro stop. Prior to the production of the film,
Vidokle appropriated a detail from a photograph of the façade of the building for another work. This detail was scanned, digitally altered, multiplied and abstracted into a hyper-grid and finally printed as a continuous field onto canvas.
Salto del Aqua depicts a highly abstract graphic/structural architectural system in the context of prosaic urban conditions. It focuses on the structure’s reductive façade, flattening the sinewy edifice into pure surface as sign. The building’s language recalls the work of American graphic designer Lance Wyman, whose op-art inspired MEXICO 68 Olympic logo became an iconic, innovative gesture that animated the Mexican and global popular imaginary. Like other corporate identity and logo designers of the fifties and sixties, Wyman efficiently transformed the revolutionary aesthetic devices and principles of the early 20th century (Bauhaus, agit-prop, Russian Constructivism) into populist, consumerist identity systems. Wyman, whose primary works have included urban way-finding systems, public transportation graphics and signage for the Mexico City metro de-radicalized revolutionary graphical and iconographic schemes for popular use. Vidokle's interest in Salto del Aqua rests in this “building [as] virtually a logo itself,” and the emptying out of architectural function and signification towards sheer adornment. The building-type, now abandoned, further stresses Vidokle’s focus on modernist architecture as ornament, decoration, design – in opposition to popularly held
conceptions of modernist design as direct expressions of functional and mechanical imperatives.
Vidokle’s and Manzutto’s film engages with the polemics of abstraction, the dissolution of radical revolutionary aesthetics and the moment at which utopian aesthetic principles and political ideals encountered globalization. Within the film, the ectopic structure now ironically becomes a device that literally mirrors the dystopia of the city. The structure’s scrim frames the urban tumult reflected upon it, revealing the excesses, anxieties and failures of the city.
A publication titled Salto del Agua by Revolver Press is available including essays by Peter Zellner, Lauri Firstenberg, Gabriel Kuri and Gilbert Vicario.
Part II of the exhibition at The Project Gallery – 962 B East 4th Street, LA 90013
T.213.620.0692 T-S 11-6pm
Notes on Renewed Appropriationisms
Curated by Lauri Firstenberg including the work of Anton Vidokle, Wade Guyton, Seth Price, Ellen Harvey, Mathieu Mercier, Kelley Walker and Siemon Allen With Projects by Ruben Ochoa and Michael Queenland
March 13- April 24, 2004
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