Starting from three audio visual scenes Slapping Power, Parricidio y Las Dictadoras, the Venezuelan artist Deborah Castillo (Caracas, Venezuela 1971), in the exhibition Parricidios promoted by the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City, investigates the consequences of socialist aspirations, geopolitical changes and the concept of power and its mythology, staging ideological ruins through a rigorous and disciplined lucidity.
Dissolving the significant and charming power of icons, the artist reconstructs contemporary history with artistic actions, shaking the collective imagination through highly emotional representations.
We are witnessing a not only aesthetic but also ideological collapse of the symbolism and iconography of power.
There is space, for instance, for the implosion of the patriarch-hero, which embodies in its character both the current dictatorship and the dictatorships that historically preceded him.
The spectator, which in turn is civis (citizen) too, is led toward a reinterpretation of the social events and ideological theories that are part of his belonging at the socio-cultural context. Moving away from the democratic ideal and repressing freedom, political action has often succumbed to the flattery of power, desire and greed, pursuing an illusory and precarious utopia of immortality. Castillo reminds us all of this process without hesitation. In Parricidio, the construction of power is therefore an aesthetic representation, or an onomatopoeia, based on the visual effects of perception, but also a wide and solid reflection, which is expressed through a search of iconoclastic order presented in three different but coherent situations.
With the material destruction of the iconic image, in fact, its worship aura disintegrates the result of centuries of collective mystification. We critically reflect on the patriarchs of recent history and on the old and new mythologies of power. But the origin, the father of historical events, the place in which each story is generated, is also the “homeland” with which the term shares the same etymological root. A homeland in which the concept of democracy, of which we almost passively recognize the presence in our social biographies, almost as healthy carriers of a shared ideology, is instead presented as a kind of chimera, perhaps the greatest one. And it is here that we focus on the real perception of this collective value by questioning ourselves about our social present.
There is not nostalgia or projection towards the future, only critical observation.
And Castillo, who lives and works in New York since some years, turns his gaze to her Country by setting up her work of a meaning that embraces both the specificity of the Venezuelan situation and the various events that historically occur in the different latitudes of the globe.
Slapping Power (2015) is, on the other hand, a documentary work that comes from a performance in which the artist attacks the symbols that represent the nation, the power and the ideological patriarchs as a signal of challenge and dissent. In Parricidio (2017) the action is directed towards a hybrid monument composed of the body of Simón Bolívar and the head of Lenin as characters of the myth. In Las Dictadoras (2017) the stereotypes of power that feed the history are displayed through actions and gestures directed by five female bodies which parodically embody Zedong, Marx, Stalin, Lenin e Castro.
The stone emblem charged of historical energy, meanings and apparent transcendence, becomes the target of a critical and material operation conveyed and handed down to posterity by the multimedia support that concretely and symbolically degrades the imaginary of power.
Since ancient times, the events of Roman history have shown that parricide was conceived as a serious crime directed against a family member, a direct descendent. Is it not perhaps that the recovery of the pure ideal hidden in the etymology of events requires a new reflection imploding familiar commonplaces consolidated for centuries? On this and other matters, the art of Castillo is certainly an interesting deal to think about it.
The exhibition promoted by the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil in Mexico City will run until November 4th.
Deborah Castillo, Slapping Power, 2015, sequenze. Courtesy of the artist and MACG, Città del Messico
Deborah Castillo, Slapping Power, 2015, sequenze video. Courtesy of the artist and MACG, Città del Messico
Deborah Castillo, Las dictadoras, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and MACG, Città del Messico
Deborah Castillo, Slapping Power, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and MACG, Città del Messico
Giuliana Schiavone. Art critic and curator based in Italy and Mexico dedicated to the communication and teaching of visual arts. Active contributor to national and international art and fashion magazines as well as promotion of contemporary art. Actively working for cultural and exhibition projects. Graduated as Art Historian and Jazz Musician with a Master in Art Curatorship following an interdisciplinary vision of artistic and aesthetic phenomenons.