When I was a kid, someone told me that a man dug a hole so deep that he stepped out of it on the other side of the world. Standing on rm ground, I wondered why this man, in fact, did not fall out of the earth and exit it upside down. In Iván Argote’s new lm “As Far As We Could Get” which contains documentary and ctional elements, he digs an imaginary channel from Indonesia to Colombia, or from the municipality of Palembang to a town called Neiva. The two cities are exact antipodes (a rare coincidence that only six more cities share worldwide). In both locations, the artist rented large billboards to announce simultaneously a feature lm named, “La Venganza Del Amor” (The Revenge of Love). As if in a novel by Jorge Luis Borges, the title of his gallery show in New York is announced through a pyramid of interrelated information—stemming from a billboard announcing a ctional lm documented by the artist’s camera, we read the title of the art exhibition that we are currently visiting.
In contrast to my musings as a child, Iván Argote boarded a plane to y from South American to Asia. On either continent and with the same directives, he met locals on a level playing eld. His main focus was young adults who were coincidentally born on the day the Berlin wall came down. While enriching a once-in-a-century event with personal biographies, Argote investigates feelings (another sheer unlimited profundity) as a fabric that in uences both history and memory.
Switching back and forth between the two locations, the camera records more similarities than differences, emphasized by bouncing basketballs always obeying gravity, thus drawing an imaginary line through the center of the world. The balls read as agents of globalization mediating between continents but also between the worlds of leisure, sports marketing (the branding of basketball players began in the USA in the 1980s), Neo-Liberalism, and Contemporary art (think Koons). The lm’s projection is interrupted at frequent intervals to illuminate the exhibition space which contains a series of concrete wall-hung sculptures, as well as a huge, solitary gold nugget (a sweet potato in disguise). The vegetable supposedly crossed seas as early as 700 AD as it sailed from the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela to Polynesia and has been cultivated and eaten ever since, stating eventually an example of a highly successful cultural “incorporation”.
Multiple layers of perforated sheets are mounted in front of each other to create a palimpsest pervious to the air. The imprinted slogans, borrowed from political pamphlets, form a concerted arrangement of voices. The colorful display acts as a lter. Some events will pass the barrier without leaving traces ; others will be eternalized. The artist, who often speaks of history as “texture”, creates allegorical images of the past and thereby deconstructs the present. The punched-out holes can be read as a loss of memory or as a breeze of fresh air.
“La Venganza Del Amor” is also Iván Argote’s response to the current political climate in the U.S., which harbors a lot of hostility towards foreigners and especially Spanish-speaking immigrants. The title is a reference to both political and cultural stereotypes (it could also be the title of a telenovela) with the assertion that love will always win.
Gianni Jetzer, March 2017