Ariel Orozco | Detras del cristal

Ariel Orozco's second solo exhibition at Federica Schiavo Gallery is a stark and dynamic reflection on some of the contradictions, anomalies and paradoxes that have come to characterize our neoliberal reality and everyday existence. Blurring binaries of plenitude and scarcity, as well as pre-emption and impotence, the exhibition deftly plays a sense of suspense off that of precariousness to disquieting and comic effect.

Issues of fragility, blighted luxury are wryly broached in Untitled a bottle of champagne, whose glass container is so riddled with fissures that it would be truly unwise to try to drink it, while paradoxes of lack and abundance are tipped over the edge in Untitled (Sed). This work consists of a large-scale installation of thousands of sand-filled drinking glasses scattered across a floor as if they were so many puddles. Here, the expansive absence of a hydrating resource is counterbalanced by the abundance of another, as useless as it is beautiful: sand. Meanwhile, the nearby Untitled (Problema) at once complicates and simplifies things. This installation is comprised of some odd sixty drains of varying colors and sizes, which are scattered haphazardly in the ground of a room with only one plug to stop up any potential loss. The vanity of the solution it offers for a problem, which, it just so happens is perfectly unresolvable, would be alarming, however, given the apparent dearth of water, we no longer have anything to worry about (or do we?). A nearby beach ball, full of sea water, is liable to upset this odd reversal of fortune, but so perplexing is this object, by virtue of the tiny parcel of vastness it contains, that any threat it poses seems to virtually dissolve in its enigma.

Fortunately and unfortunately, we are no strangers to such impressively flawed logic. Indeed, in the context of the current moment of perpetual crisis management, these accidental and inevitably provisional methods of problem solving are disturbingly familiar. The potential, if ridiculous peril that attends these methods can be experienced, at least in part, in the exhibition's final, large-scale installation, Untitled. Composed of a spot-light that encircles a single firework lying on the ground, this quasi-tautological conjunction of illumination is not so much menacing as it is deflating, and as such seems to suggest that the end of the world we have come to expect might not be as spectacular as, say, Hollywood continually makes it out to be. Nevertheless, with this in mind, the small-scale installation Gris located in the office of the gallery, which already functioned as an incisive introduction, now proposes a fitting coda to an exhibition best seen on the tips of one's toes. This intervention consists of a gray coloring pencil vertically balanced on its point on the extreme corner of a desk. The tiny miracle performed by this symbolically interstitial object ("gray area") assumes a particular poignance here, ultimately registering as a metaphor for the virtuosity required to negotiate the growing precariousness of everyday life.

Chris Sharp