VITORIA-GASTEIZ.- Artium, Centre-Museum of Contemporary Art
, presents the exhibition Walk Among Us (Attack, Sustain, Release, Decay), by Pepo Salazar (Lower East Gallery, until May 3), in which the Basque artist shows the results of work developed over the last two years between New York and Valencia. In this exhibition, Salazar includes photographs, videos, installations and objects in order to reveal his ideological anaesthetic proposals, which stand on the borderline between iconoclastic punk and the Utopian, avant-garde movements in the world of art. Pepo Salazar reveals his disillusionment with a number of vital options of the commitment and struggle to transform society that end up by becoming diluted, swallowed up and sometimes even placed at the service of the system that they intended to change. The artist, nevertheless, also suggests the need to generate attitudes and new ways of thinking, capable of reactivating those conditions. Walk Among Us is a production of Artium (Vitoria-Gasteiz).
At the far end of the Lower East Gallery of Artium, one of the works installed in Walk Among Us, is a large metal mobile that holds the cymbals of a drum kit, from which hang, among other objects, an electric guitar. On the guitar, Pepo Salazar (Vitoria, 1972) has roughly scratched a quotation from the Russian Constructivist artist Aleksandr Rodchenko: The future is our only goal. To the right, another large pendant turns, dragging with it on the floor several microphones to produce a rough, deafening sound. The punk aesthetic, which Salazar was familiar with as an adolescent, and the references to the music and culture of that era (the title of the exhibition is taken from an LP by the punk group The Misfits published in the Eighties) are assembled with allusions to avant-garde art movements.
Pepo Salazar's exhibition contains installations, video projections, drawings, large scale sculptures and photographs. The work that expresses the general theme of the exhibition is the installation called The Loft, the result of a number of different actions performed by the artist in his New York studio. A large photographic mural places us in Salazar's workshop, and around it, inside and outside a room built of ordinary concrete blocks, we find a number of different objects, as if they were the waste material from those performances.
The artist plays on words, with their meaning, with their form and with their position. The sculpture White Noise is like a barrier of text that the spectator can walk through and not be aware that he is going through two words, just like the large drawings with letters written with long, straight strokes, geometrical drawings in which one can read, for example, the subtitle of the exhibition (Attack, Sustain, Release, Decay), a further reference (like White Noise) to the technology used in musical production, and once again, with the chance of playing on the meaning of the words (attack, sustain, release, and decay).
The manipulation of words is a constant feature of the exhibition: in one photograph, on a digital alarm clock showing 11.34, placed upside down, one can read the word hell; a collage made with the logotype of the hard rock group Judas Priest reads just die; an inscription etched with acid on a glass panel allows one to read, from one side, the word star and from the opposite side rats. Pepo Salazar distorts and twists the messages and reveals the multipurpose nature of language and the way this is stripped of any meaning at the hands of our own system.
Walk Among Us presents Pepo Salazar trapped between the pessimism of seeing how a number of life options that inspired great expectations for change (the punk movement, but also Utopian avant-garde movements, Dada, Situationism or Contemporary philosophy) were finally absorbed and swallowed up by the system, and used for its own purposes, as well as the need to cling on to artistic creation as a means to generate critical attitudes.
Pepo Salazar's work has formed part of a number of one-man and collective exhibitions in Paris (Palais de Tokyo), Berlin (Kunstlerhaus Bethanien), New York (Art in General), Amsterdam, Singapore (TRAFO Museum), Argentina, Italy, Belgium and Spain (MUSAC in León, Guggenheim Bilbao, Koldo Mitxelena in Donostia, Fundación Tàpies in Barcelona, ARTIUM de Vitoria-Gasteiz), among other locations. He exhibits his work periodically at the Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam and on a number of different occasions at the Newman Popiashvili and Motti Hason galleries in New York, Luis Adelantado in Valencia and Oliva Arauna in Madrid. ARTIUM's collection contains two works by Salazar, a video entitled Tachers period, Dickinsons joint (1997), and a vídeo-installation called Second Kjord Corpse. Case Performance (2001)