A Colombian artist who lives and works in Paris, Iván Argote (30) deals with the way that man relates with the myriad changes that take place daily in the historical, economic, political and moral realms. His aim is to question the role of subjectivity in the revision of these concepts. Argote involves the body, and its feelings actively in the construction of the his thinking, and develops methods to generate reflexion about the way we construct certainty in relation with politics and history. By creating interventions and performances for the public space, which are sometimes further developed in the format of videos and photos, the artist explores the city as a space of transformation.
In 2013, Argote began the project The Messengers, a film made in collaboration with American political activists Blaine O’Neal and Gabriela Van Auken. With footage shot in small villages in Colombia and Spain, The Messengers uses text, images, electronic and |Folk Music to foster discussion about colonialism, concisely revealing the conceptual content of the solo show at Vermelho.
On Vermelho’s façade, Argote writes the phrase Let’s Write a History of Hopes (2014), which involves various ideas that pervade the solo show. Unlike previous projects presented on this 8x15-meter canvas, which holds concepts and ideas of other artists, Let’s Write a History of Hopes takes the opposite path. The idea is not one of accumulation, but of subtraction, since to write this phrase Argote removes layers of the wall’s surface, revealing the vestiges of previous projects.
This procedure with archaeological characteristics employed by Argote to investigate history based on its icons, representations, images, etc., reemerges in the set consisting of four sculptures of the Excerpts (2014) series. In it, phrases like “Dancing is the only way I can forget” and “We are happy with our problems, and tired of your solutions” are written on remnants of political and advertising campaigns.
A similar strategy also appears in the 3-D animation Blind Kittens and in the video Barcelona, both from 2014. In the former, the artist uses images of iconographic sculptures that represent power. In this work, Argote presents blind icons playing with a simple little ball. In the latter, a performance created in 2013 for a video camera, Argote carries out a ritual in partnership with an 18th-century sculpture depicting an indigenous person, located in a public square in the city of Barcelona.
Fingers Crossed Destiny (2014) reproduces images from fragments of copies of classical sculptures acquired by Argote in China. Over them, however, the artist inserts texts that he himself created, which reveal his sociopolitical and artistic questionings.
Here Eating Dirt Mom... (2014), an installation composed of more than 1,500 clay bricks made by Argote in Brazil, winds through the exhibition’s entire ground-floor. Each brick was handmade by Argote and bears the mark of the artist’s bite. The work reaffirms the phrase written on Vermelho’s façade, using the symbolism of the brick as a central element in the construction, and especially reconstruction, of history pervaded by hope. Iván Argote – Exposições Individuais (seleção) “Strenghthlessness”, Galerie Perrotin, Paris, France; Activissime!, Espai 2 – Barcelona, Spain – (2014); “Munich Time Capsule 2013-2113, A Space Calle Public”, Munich, Germany - (2013); “La Estrategia”, Palais de Tokyo (Modules), Paris , France, “Sin heroísmos, por favor”, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, Spain - (2012); “We are”, Nurture Art, New York, EUA (2011); “Lots of Love” , Störk Gallery, Rouen, France - (2010).
Exposições coletivas (seleção) “Buildering: Misbehaving the City", Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, USA, “Addenda", Notre Dame à la Rose Museum with B.P.S.22, Lessines, Belgium, “Utopian Days - Freedom", Total Museum, Seoul, Coréia, "All about these... Ladies and Gentleman”, National Gallery of Arts, Tirana, República da Albânia, “Misbehaving the City", Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, USA, “A Part in the Story where a Part becomes Part of something Else”, Witte the With, Roterdã, Holanda, “Inéditos 2014 - Be virus, my friend”, Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain - (2014); “Artesur, Collective Fictions”, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, “Small Gestures”, UM, Eindoven, The Netherlands - (2013); “XXX Bienal de São Paulo: A Iminência das Poéticas”, Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo, São Paulo, Brazil, “Los irrespetuosos”, Museo Carillo Gil, Mexico DF, Mexico (2012); “Vista”, Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, USA, “Biennale de Mulhouse”, Mulhouse, France, “Biennale Madrid Abierto”, Art Biennale, Madrid, Spain - (2010).