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Gabriel Orozco: Mexican and Latin American Identity in Contemporary Art
2011

Introduction

“..the most important step for an artist, at least for me, is to re-establish or to develop contacts, or bridges, in our relationship with reality-the real, whatever it is. That thing is outside of us, that thing we need to know, that we want to explore in order to understand the world, ourselves, and the time we’re living in.” -Gabriel Orozco in conversation with Benjamin H. D. Buchloh (2004)[1]

Since the early 1990’s Mexican contemporary artists have been increasingly visible in the global art-world. Their work is now an established facet of international collections and museum shows being featured alongside their global counterparts and within exhibitions that seek to showcase ‘new’ Latin American art.

In this essay I will focus on the latest large-scale review of the work of Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco shown initially at MoMA in New York between December 2009 and March 2010 and after its transfer to Europe, to the Centre Pompidou and then Tate Modern in London in the first four months of 2011. I will address some of the issues and criticisms that arise regarding identity that surround the work of Orozco, particularly those raised during its tenure in New York. The exhibition at MOMA in New York raises interesting issues regarding the cultural reception of Orozco’s art practice, the reception of Orozco’s exhibition by the U.K press has been mostly positive whereas in the U.S the reviews that followed the MOMA leg of the exhibition were accompanied with some criticism, the neighbour to the north of Orozco’s native Mexico could be seen to be observing Orozco and his work with their eyes set on their Southern neighbour and the continent beyond, one criticism being that Orozco has distanced himself from Mexicanness and suppressed his national identity in an effort to be embraced by the global institutional art world[2].

 It is this territory of identity that I will investigate and argue that this criticism is both harsh and a reinforcement, if perhaps barely even perceived by his critics, of a U.S centric response to Mexican artists and that Orozco’s practice has embraced processes that have a real precedent in Mexican and Latin American conceptual cultural practice which respond to cross border politics between Mexico and the U.S and a wider contemporary Latin American attitude to the dominant political force of the U.S.A to the North.

Orozco at MoMA

In Holland Cotter’s review for the New York Times for the 2009 exhibition at MoMA he is largely critical of what he sees as Gabriel Orozco’s move away from ‘identity’. He suggests by referencing Orozco’s first appearance at MoMA in 1993 and his subsequent contribution to the Venice Biennale the same year. Cotter is positive about Orozco’s practice at that time describing works that posed questions and suggested something new and fresh in the international art world,  “In addition, identity politics, simmering through the previous decade, had come into its own, and the appearance of Mr. Orozco, a young Mexican artist, at MoMA was a political event.” Cotter suggests that Orozco, even at that time, did not directly address these ‘identity politics’ but that his inclusion in the MoMA programme still suggested these political issues. He then describes Orozco’s work for the Biennale

‘a single empty cardboard shoebox left on a gallery floor. This was a perfectly judged gesture: commanding in its modesty, vulnerable in its openness, and obliquely critical. Intended as a sly reference to the cramped exhibition quarters he’d been allotted, the piece might also be read as a comment on the scant room given to Latin American artists in history.’[3]

Cotter then suggests that the 2009 retrospective of Orozco’s work, which included some of the pieces for the original 1993 MoMA exhibition and the Venice Biennale exhibit, has shown a development of Orozco’s practice with his later works more conscious of an international art market and resulting in work produced by, in Cotter’s words “a former maverick turned mainstream player”. He suggests that Orozco’s global success has been achieved with Orozco  “careful to distance his art from overt Mexicanness,” and that as a result “he has become in some academic circles the canonical contemporary Latin American artist”. One might wonder what Cotter expects from Orozco as an artist, it is clear that Cotter is suggesting that some essence of identity should be seen in the artist’s work but that the adoption of more international influences has lessened the power of Orozco’s work.

In his review for Time Out New York Howard Halle is more scathing, stating at the end of his review that Orozco’s practice, its post-studio nature reliant on large institutions to support it, is only possible through market and institutional patronage, “Artists like Orozco, by contrast, set off for the very centers of power, bags lightly packed with the fig leaves of identity politics. In that respect, they shouldn’t be surprised that their work doesn’t hold up in the long run.”[4]  This sense amongst most of the U.S critics was that Orozco’s work has softened its edge, that his internationalist art practice had suppressed his identity. One might ask what identity the critics were looking for and whether this retrospective overview of his work might subtly suggest the essence of Orozco’s identity, one that these critics had overlooked or did not concur with, not the identity they hoped to see projected by Orozco. The mention of identity politics is interesting because, in many cases such as this writing by Halle, the critics appear to be criticising Orozco not so overtly because they cannot see his Mexicanness but because of his seeming internationalist identity. It would seem that many critics expect an overt expression of identity in Orozco’s work but also mention the use of identity within the work as being, even if only subtly, present. This contradiction is uneasy and one might wonder amongst these expectations and contradictions regarding identity how Orozco has also become recognised as “the canonical contemporary Latin American artist” that Holland Cotter has suggested. We might also reflect on Orozco as “a former maverick turned mainstream player”, as Luis Camnitzer states,

‘Although the term ‘mainstream’ carries democratic reverberations, suggesting an open and majority-supported institution, it is in fact rather elitist, reflecting a specific social and economic class. In reality, ‘mainstream’ presumes a reduced group of cultural gatekeepers and represents a select nucleus of nations. It is a name for a power structure that promotes a self-appointed hegemonic culture.’[5]

Might we infer an expectation in the U.S of the role of the maverick Mexican artist as an oppositional neighbour to the prevailing U.S art world, assumed and expected to exist outside the specific social and economic class of the cultural gatekeepers and might we understand that these critics exist as just those very self-appointed gatekeepers?

The art of Mexicanness and the United States

The reception of Orozco’s MoMA leg of the exhibition might be seen in relation to the work of other Mexican artists. The U.S and the state of California in particular has seen an embracing of Mexican or Mexican-American artists within its galleries and museums, in many cases the nature of the artists’ work directly relates to relationships to the U.S or, in the case of Mexican-American artists the immigrant or dual citizen experience. The traditions of recognized Mexican art practice that emerged from Mexico and gained wider recognition internationally through the 20th century focused attention on Mexican artists and the methods they employed in their work, two major movements being the 1920’s/30’s muralism such as that used by the artists Diego Rivera and David Alvaro Siqueiros and the 1960’s/1970’s Chicano Movement. In particular late 20th Century early 21st century Mexican artists have continued these traditions of practice and used these methods within their work both aesthetically and as political tool within Mexican urban migrant communities in U.S cities. The modern muralists have taken these forms to the neighbourhoods of their cities on both sides of the border and with the adoption of modern graffiti techniques continue to use the walls of their streets as places to produce highly detailed public murals often touching on very pressing local political issues. These methods and imagery have also been absorbed by Mexican or Mexican-American gallery artists. A U.S art audience has become accustomed to work often critical of the U.S. An example of this type of work is the illustrations of Eduardo Chagoya[6], relocating from Mexico to San Francisco in the 1970’s Chagoya’s illustrations combine symbols and images from Mexican history and contemporary Mexican and U.S popular culture. These mostly satirical illustrations combine images in conflict and dialogue with each other and focus attention on cross-border politics, immigration and the Mexican immigrant experience in the U.S.

‘Cultural frontiers are portrayed not as barriers but as challenging points of intersection, appropriation, and resistance that reconfigure our already complex and questionable identities.’[7]

Chagoya’s work with its appropriated imagery and pop-culture references also suggests similar methods used in the Chicano movement. The Chicano movement was a move against mainstream cultural traditions of art, often bound into political activity, in particular workers rights[8] and civil rights activism, the Chicano movement presented art to be embedded in social and political action by Mexican communities in the U.S. Tomás Ybarra-Frausto explains the traditions and goals of the movement, “As communal customs, rituals and traditions were appropriated by Movimiento artists, they yielded boundless sources of imagery. The aim was not simply to reclaim vernacular traditions but to reinterpret them in ways useful to the social urgency of the period.”[9] Ybarra-Frausto sums up his essay on The Chicano Movement by suggesting the future and legacy of the movement,

‘Rather than flowing from a monolithic aesthetic, Chicano art forms arise from tactical, strategic and positional necessities. What Carlos Moniváis has called ‘la cultura de la necessidad’ (the culture of the necessity) leads to fluid multivocal exchanges among shifting cultural traditions. Two consistent objectives of Chicano art have been to undermine imposed models of representation and to interrogate systems of aesthetic discourse, disclosing them as neither natural nor secure but conventional and historically determined.’[10]

We might see the very political necessities that have arisen amongst many Mexican artists and the very close relationships between Mexicans and in particular U.S based Mexicans to the dominant power of the U.S. This has resulted in a very U.S centred view of much Mexican art. Art produced by either immigrant or dual-citizenship Mexicans either in or about the U.S and their perceived identity and social role[11] in the U.S has resulted in very distinct artistic responses, many in the U.S have become increasingly aware of issues presented by these groups and the aesthetics and politics have become expected by the U.S audience through a kind of Mexican contemporary vernacular in art. The dominance of these forms have been adopted for very real and important reasons but for non-Chicano Mexican artists such as Orozco this expectation of what constitutes Mexican contemporary art does not represent the very distinct and separate issues and experiences that may inform their work. For someone like Orozco these aesthetic forms are not the medium he requires for his work, however, in much the same way as the Chicano Movement artists the experiences of Orozco, and similar Mexican artists, has resulted in the building of an art practice from their own unique tactical, strategic and positional necessities framed not by their relationships to the U.S but to the wider world and their ability to succeed in a global art market. The adoption of aesthetic responses to a globalised art economy has enabled Mexican and Latin American artists to be subsumed into the international art scene but the methods employed still tactically and strategically relate to the existing power balance of the art world with the success being defined by predominantly a U.S and European elite of critics, dealers, museums and collectors. This power balance has affected the work of many Latin American artists and influences their practices into what many see as a generic, ‘Latin American’ style, a style which those artists are often accused, by mostly U.S based critics, of being overly influenced by a globalised art market

A Latin American response

Gabriel Orozco’s art has developed through processes of travel and responses to multiple localities that Orozco has found himself in. This has been a deliberate methodology of practice that Orozco has created, this is just the very tactical, strategic and positional necessity that Orozco required to prosper as an artist, this has been what created the positive responses to his practice in its early years and what now appears to be used as negative criticism of his career latterly in the U.S. Whilst, as we saw earlier, that this practice methodology has been interpreted as the point at which Orozco, in Halle’s words, set off for the “centers of power” of the international art world and also in Cotter’s understanding saw Orozco distance himself from his Mexicanness and adopted forms which place him amongst his peers as “the canonical Latin American artist”, it seems the necessities of Orozco’s decisions have not been understood or accepted by his U.S critics. Just as harsh as the terms used by Halle and Cotter is the response to the MoMA exhibition by Robert C Morgan in his review for the online artcritical magazine. Morgan, amongst other criticisms, suggests that the selection of Orozco for such large retrospective at MoMA does not provide anything new and that many others of Orozco’s Latin American contemporaries have employed diverse media just as Orozco, but that Orozco’s work remains critically distant and that his reputation comes from his perceived distance from the stereotypical Latin American artist,

‘An argument made in favor of Orozco is that he does not fit the traditional romantic stereotype of the Latin American artist.  Rather his career has moved in the direction of conceptual art where the idea foregrounds the object. Yet one can point to an array of Latin American conceptual artists who have preceded him, including Luis Camnitzer, Liliana Porter, Cildo Moreiles, and Regina Silveira. On the other hand, a younger generation of specifically Mexican artists appears to hold Orozco in great esteem, largely for having established an international reputation that goes in opposition to this perceived cultural stereotype.’[12] 

Again rather than an expectation of Mexicanness this critic has another expectation of identity and argues that Orozco’s similarity in style to other Latin American artists is only differentiated by the establishment of a practice beyond the stereotypes of the ‘Latin American’ artist. It is unclear with this analysis of Orozco’s identity by Morgan just what the problem might be; Morgan begins by questioning the ability to contextualise Orozco’s work and complains  

‘..the problem appears to be one of locating the conceptual support.  For Orozco, the textural referent is too cynically removed and therefore out of place, detached in ways that remove the Invariant permutations from having any core of elasticity. As a result they are suspended within the infinite universe of a hypothetical game of chance where no resolution is foreseen, and where variations appear arbitrarily chosen.’[13]

It might appear that a veiled criticism of Orozco is that the roaming, global nature of his practice means that without the easy referencing of his identity as Mexican or Latin American in his work it is difficult to read a position of each artwork or his practice, one might argue that once again this is an expectation of what position, through identity politics, Orozco ought to assume[14] but also on Morgan’s part an inability to see or accept the tactical, strategic and positional nature of Orozco’s practice. Morgan highlights one key point regarding the establishment of Orozco’s reputation that of the esteem in which he is held by younger Mexican artists. I would argue that amongst these criticisms of Orozco which often form around an expected sense of identity, that this international style of work which many U.S critics find problematic, is the route of Orozco’s identity and it is one in which the Mexican and Latin American artists, for example those younger artists he has influenced, are exploring not only wider issues of a globalised world but also a Latin American perspective that makes strategic and tactical decisions about a practice which is founded in a Latin American identity and response to global influences.

Latin American modernism has been influenced greatly by its power relations with the wider world, the influence through the 19th , 20th and into the 21st century of European and U.S forces on Latin America have shaped the continent and the responses by Latin American citizens. In his book Latin America: A New Interpretation Laurence Whitehead explains the historical influences on the continent[15], he concludes by stating

“By the 1920’s, the Soviet Union had become the mecca for an alternative vision of modernity, one that eventually took root in Cuba after 1959.”[16]  Whitehead then explains “Most Latin American elites became adept at tracking, anticipating, channeling and, if possible, monopolizing such external influences. Those that delayed or resisted were...often reduced to reconsider when they found themselves at a growing competitive disadvantage with the frontrunners.”[17]

Across the continent many post-colonial Latin American governments and their citizens were influenced by their relation to the outside influences of, and the adoption of, European and U.S forms of modernity. By the middle of the 20th century one of the major influences was post 1959 Cuba and the influence of soviet Communism and its Latin American reinterpretations. It is in this territory that we return back to Gabriel Orozco. Orozco’s father was a mural painter and art professor at the Universidad Veracruzana and a committed communist. Orozco’s friend Gabriel Kuri recalls of the Orozco household that “Speaking English at home was practically forbidden by his father. In those latter days of the Cold War, this rejection of the culture and language of our northern neighbors was a quasi-compulsory political stance for many.”[18]

The influence of Cuban Communism, in turn ideologically and financially supported by the Soviet Union, in the early years of the Cuban revolution influenced other Latin American countries, for those who saw communism as prospective agent for protection against the military, economic and political power of the U.S. For many Latin American countries the middle years of the 20th century saw the introduction of mining operations and other influences in the form of the arrival of U.S companies looking for commercial, financial and trading opportunities, many U.S economic practices in mineral extraction and trading agreements resulted in what Eduardo Galeano describes as ‘plunder’.[19] During this time in Mexico Galeano quotes Harvey O’Conner who reports

‘Nearly three decades of foreign operations had robbed Mexico of her richest oil deposits and left only a collection of antique refineries, depleted fields, ramshackle camps, the slum city of Tampico, and bitter memories.’[20]

It would not overstate the impact of such events to understand that someone such as Orozco’s father might see in the cold war period a potential solution, in Soviet and Cuban inspired communism, to such excesses of U.S involvement in Mexico and Latin America. The ensuing embargo on Cuba by the U.S into the late 20th century has reinforced amongst sympathisers in Latin America a United States that seems aggressive, exploitative and harsh in its hold on power over its Southern neighbours, in light of the fall of Soviet Communism and modern anti-immigration rhetoric in modern U.S politics one can imagine what strategies and tactics the Latin American artist feels might be employed in furtherance of their careers in the face of the continued dominance of the U.S on their continent. Beyond the overtly oppositional work of artists such as Chagoya discussed earlier we might also see a new more pragmatic strategy such as the methods employed by Orozco. A practice that stems from decisions made in the tradition of a Latin American response of, as we have seen Whitehead explain, ‘tracking, anticipating, channeling and, if possible, monopolizing such external influences’. Might we see in the decisions and methodologies of Orozco’s practice just this very response to late 20th and early 21st Century of U.S and increasingly globalised influence on contemporary art practice.

Orozco explains that as a young artist in Mexico he found his home country “..very nationalistic and very enclosed. It followed from the powerful state apparatus: to create a self-sufficient environment not interested in the outside. And as you can see that in the art that was being made at the time in Mexico.”[21] Between 1986 and 1992 Orozco traveled to Madrid, Rio and New York making artworks that responded to the cities and places he found himself in and exposing himself to the work of artists such as Robert Smithson and John Cage, artists on whose work the more conservative Mexican art schools did not focus. It was his exposure to the aesthetic variations and practice methods that encouraged Orozco to adopt and develop the post-studio methods and responses to different geographies that he uses in his work to this day.

‘There was not a single gallery in Mexico City interested in my work, zero. And besides (Guillermo) Santamarina, there was not a single curator understanding my work. I wanted to do so many things, but in Mexico, where I had so little support, it was not clear how I could do them.’[22]

So it was that Orozco made a decision that faced many of his Mexican and Latin American contemporaries, he ‘set off for the very centers of power’ and relocated to the powerful northern neighbour of the U.S. Allied to the pragmatic and cheap post-studio methods employed Orozco embarked in his early years in New York on his career as an ‘international’ artist. We can see in the recent accusations from critics that adoption of a supposed global or international aesthetic styling and methodology of practice are the strategic, tactical and positional decision making that many of Orozco’s contemporaries from Latin America have made. It could be argued that Orozco, and similarly his compatriot Damien Ortega, are responding in a very Mexican or Latin American manner to the hegemonic power of the U.S and Europe dominated art world. For those critics in the U.S who seem to demand a Mexican or Latin American identity it could be argued that Orozco does just that, As Mariana David notes when discussing a Latin American identity in contemporary arts

‘The choice of maintaining a national identity or opening up to international influence is a type of schizophrenia that is most evident in the arts. The Latin American label allows easy consumption.’[23]

 Conclusions

As we have seen in the modern responses of Latin America to the political hegemony of outside influences, rather than an expected oppositional response to the hegemonic power Orozco quietly adopts a channeling, in an artistic sense, of these outside influences. Perhaps the problem that Orozco’s critics have that his quiet form of channeling does not lend itself to an easy consumption or depiction of Orozco’s identity or the works contextualization through identity. As I have argued it could be suggested that a more oppositional assertion of the ‘Mexican’ or ‘Latin-American’ identity is assumed and expected by the U.S, especially as we have seen by some of its critics, one that even in opposition can allow for ‘easy consumption’, the absorption of Orozco as a dominant mainstream player in the international contemporary art world raises questions of the hegemonic power of a western centred art market dominated and hugely influenced by the U.S. and its critics and who has influence on the dominant narrative of contemporary international art practice. As Fabiana Serviddio observes

‘..the story of the exhibition of Latin American art in the U.S primarily illuminates the power of locale in the judgement of aesthetic value, skewed by display in a place born to foster political and commercial relations. These problems of place reveal the constitution of the modern art field – its practice, critique, and history – and sheds light on art histories beyond the borders of the U.S that have only recently been integrated into the dominant narrative.’[24]

Gabriel Orozco’s practice and his international influence as an artist raise interesting questions not just for non-European or U.S artists to succeed in the international art world but also for their influence to change the current dominant narrative of art production and those that hold power to determine what that narrative is, as Homhi Babha states

‘ The ‘right’ to signify from the periphery of authorized power and privilege does not depend on the persistence of tradition; it is resourced by the power of tradition to be reinscribed through conditions of contingency and contradictoriness that attend upon the lives of those who are ‘in the minority’.'[25]

Gabriel Orozco and his art works present an identity that assumes at all times contingency and contradictoriness, it is not fixed and this is the nature of his work as he works between multiple geographies, the criticism that his engagement, if any, in identity politics is just a ‘figleaf’, that he does not represent as a Mexican a full Mexicanness or that he has just been subsumed into a more hybrid representation of the ‘international’ artist is to deny contingency. The articulation of Orozco’s identity as Mexican or Latin American are not overt and as Jorge Larrain explains

‘It is very important to realize that national identities exist at two different poles of culture. At the one end, they exist in the public sphere as articulated discourses, highly selective and constructed from above by a variety of cultural institutions (such as intellectuals, universities, media, research centres, etc.). At the other end, they exist in the social base as a form of personal and group subjectivity which expresses a variety of practices, modes of life and feelings which are sometimes not well represented in public versions of identity.’[26]

The variety of practices, the modes of life and feelings that are represented through Orozco’s work are, as Larrain has suggested, not an easily represented public version of identity, but as I have argued the channeling of outside influences Orozco employs is actually an established modern strategy of Latin American identity and response to those influences of hegemony. Due to the nature of its difficulty to provide an easily consumed view of public identity, the criticisms highlight the problems of any assumptions of identity and the hidden nature of the influence of artists such as Orozco, as Gerardo Mosquera has observed identity and “internationalism” in contemporary art is problematic, and that art sees itself in a position of transition[27]

‘The fact that artists from all corners of the globe now exhibit internationally only signifies a quantitative internationalization. The question remains: to what extent are the artists contributing to transformation of the hegemonic and restrictive status quo in favor of true diversification, instead of being managed by it?’[28]

We might observe that Orozco has used the established methods of channeling or tracking of outside influences observed by Laurence Whitehead and is subtly reconfiguring our views of the dominant narrative of the hegemonic powers of the art world. Orozco has insinuated an identity, as in Larrain’s terminology, he is expressing his ‘variety of practices, modes of life and feelings’ embedded within the appearance of a mainstream ‘internationalism’ instead of being managed by it. This is the power of Orozco’s art and his practice, it is grounded in a pragmatic but nonetheless Latin American response to hegemony and in its contingency his work challenges notions of globalization, the ‘mainstream’ and stereotypical concepts of identity and by whom and by what means the discourse of, and the right to signify, identity is conducted.

 

 




[1] Yves-Alain Bois (ed), October Files-Gabriel Orozco, (Cambridge: The MIT Press 2009),  p. 106.

[2] This criticism was levelled at Orozco by Holland Cotter in his review of the MOMA exhbition. - Holland Cotter, ‘Slicing a Car, Fusing Bicycles and Turning Ideas Into Art’, New York Times, December 13th 2009.  <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/arts/design/14orozco.html> Accessed: 5/5/2011.

[3] Holland Cotter, ‘Slicing a Car, Fusing Bicycles and Turning Ideas Into Art’, New York Times, December 13th 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/arts/design/14orozco.html> Accessed: 5/5/2011.

[4] Howard Halle, ‘Gabriel Orozco’, Time Out New York, January 18th 2010

<http://newyork.timeout.com/arts-culture/art/60146/gabriel-orozco> Accessed: 5/5/2011.

[5] Luis Camnitzer, ‘Access to the Mainstream’, in Gerardo Mosquera (ed), Beyond the Fantastic-Contemporary art criticism from Latin America, (London: The Institute of International Visual Arts 1995), p. 218.

[6] Artists such as Jaime Ruiz Otis often deal with the economic relationships of trade and the cyclical nature of manufacturing and waste that exist across the U.S/Mexican border. Marcos Ramirez Erre’s collaborations with U.S artist Mike Davis on the Minutemen phenomenen relating to immigration controls, policies and their responses by local citizens and although not overtly critical, most notable in recent years has been Teresa Margolles powerful response to political and drug cartel violence for the Mexican pavilion at 2009’s Venice Biennale.

[7] Daniela Perez, ‘Simultaneous Dimensions’, in Patricia Hickson (ed), Enrique Chagoya-Borderlandia, (IOWA: The Des Moines Art Center 2007), p. 38.

[8] Particularly notable and influential was the 1965 initiative launched by Cesar Chavez to unionise agricultural workers in California mobilising workers of Mexican origin in what became known as “La Causa”.

[9] Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, ‘The Chicano Movement/The Movement of Chicano Art’, in Gerardo Mosquera (ed), Beyond the Fantastic-Contemporary art criticism from Latin America, (London: The Institute of International Visual Art, 1995), p. 169.

[10] Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, “The Chicano Movement/The Movement of Chicano Art”, in Gerardo Mosquera (ed), Beyond the Fantastic-Contemporary art criticism from Latin America, (London: The Institute of International Visual Arts 1995), p. 181.

[11] Of particular interest is the work of American born artist Perry Vasquez, who’s pro-immigration “Keep on Crossin’” work raises issues of labour, economy and cultural benefits in the immigration debate regarding cross-border immigration.

[12] Robert C. Morgan, ‘Gabriel Orozco at The Museum of Modern Art, New York’, artcritical, Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

< http://artcritical.com/2010/01/06/gabriel-orozco-at-the-museum-of-modern-art-new-york/> Accessed: 3/5/2011.

[13] Robert C. Morgan, ‘Gabriel Orozco at The Museum of Modern Art, New York’, artcritical, Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 < http://artcritical.com/2010/01/06/gabriel-orozco-at-the-museum-of-modern-art-new-york/> Accessed: 3/5/2011.

[14] Mónica Amor explains this tendency by remarking “We should avoid what Gererdo Mosquera has identified as an ‘otherizing tendency’ in the arts. It seems a precondition today that to enter the museum, the gallery, the publishing circuit, Latin American artists and writers have to present ‘otherizing’ credentials. The result is the reinscription of old heirarchies of power where the ‘Third World Subject’ is allowed some space in the public sphere but only under a disguised essentialism delineated by those who control the infrastructure that supports the arts.” – Mónica Amor, ‘Cartogrophies: Exploring the Limitations of a Curatorial Paradigm’, in in Gerardo Mosquera (ed), Beyond the Fantastic-Contemporary art criticism from Latin America, (London: The Institute of International Visual Art, 1995), p. 252.

[15] In Latin America: An Interpretation Whitehead explains the British influence in the 1820’s on shipping in most South American ports, the adoption of French language in the Rio imperial court, German military influence at the time of the Franco-Prussian war, the effects of European immigration in particular Italian and Spanish arrivals on the continent and the cultural influence of anarchism and labor organization. The British building of railways and American establishment of mineral and agricultural trade. The German pioneering of airlines and finally Soviet influence on mid- 20th century Latin American politics. - Laurence Whitehead, Latin America: A New Interpretation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 37.

[16] Laurence Whitehead, Latin America: A New Interpretation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 37.

[17] Laurence Whitehead, Latin America: A New Interpretation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 37.

[18] Paulina Pobocha and Anne Byrd, ‘1981-1991: Early Years’, in Ann Temkin (ed), Gabriel Orozco (London: Tate Publishing 2009), p. 45.

[19] Galeano describes in Open Veins of Latin America the influence of the work of Standard Oil in Mexico in the 1930’s. “..Mexico had its own experience of an international embargo decreed by Standard oil of new jersey and royal dutch/shell: from 1939 to 1942 the cartel organized a blockade of mexican petroleum exports and of supplies for its wells and refineries. President Lazaro Cardenas had nationalized the oil concerns. Nelson Rockefeller, who had graduated as an economist in 1930 with a thesis on his own Standard Oil’s virtues, journeyed to Mexico to negotiate an agreement, but Cardenas would not budge. Standard Oil and Shell, having divided up Mexico by taking the north and south respectively, defied Mexican supreme court rulings on the application of Mexican labor laws: at the same time, they drained the famous Fajo de Oro deposits with startling speed and were making Mexicans pay more for their own petroleum than they received for what was sold in the United States and Europe. In a few months of feverish exporting, wells that could have continued producing for thirty or forty years were drained dry. -Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America (New York: Monthly Review Press 1973), p. 175-176.

[20] Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America (New York: Monthly Review Press 1973), p. 176.

[21] Paulina Pobocha and Anne Byrd, ‘1981-1991: Early Years’, in Ann Temkin (ed), Gabriel Orozco (London: Tate Publishing 2009), p. 46.

[22] Paulina Pobocha and Anne Byrd, ‘1992: Migrations’, in Ann Temkin (ed), Gabriel Orozco (London: Tate Publishing 2009), p. 64.

[23] Mariana David, ‘Latin America Now-Situating the Emerging Art:A Preliminary Approach’, Flash Art, vol. 38 iss.243 (July September 2005), 102-105: p. 102.

[24] Fabiana Serviddio, ‘Exhibiting Identity: Latin America Between the Imaginary and the Real’, Journal of Social History, vol. 44 no. 2 (Winter 2010) 481-498: p. 495.

[25] Homi K Bhabha, ‘on ‘hybridity’ and ‘moving beyond’, in Charles Harrison & Pual Wood (eds.), Art In Theory – 1900-2000 – An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Malden: Blackwell Publishing 2009), p. 1111.

[26] Jorge Larrain, Identity and Modernity in Latin America, (Cambridge: Polity 2000), p. 34.

[27] “Instead of demanding that it declare its identity, art from Latin America is now being recognized more and more as participant in a general practice that does not by necessity show its context, and that on occasion refers to art itself. This corresponds to the increase of new international circuits that are slowly overcoming the pseudo-internationalism of the mainstream. The consolidation of this “third” scene is part and parcel of the processes of globalization. In this way, artists from Latin America, like those of Africa or Southeast Asia, have begun, slowly and yet increasingly, to exhibit, publish, and exercise influence outside of ghettoized circuits. As a result of this, many prejudices are confronted and everyone wins, not only in those circles with less access to international networks. However, new problems have emerged, characteristic of a period of transition. If the danger of self-exoticism in response to the expectation of “primitivism” and difference exists, its opposites also exist: abstract cosmopolitanism that flattens out differences, and the mimetic “internationalism” that forces an appropriation of a type of postmodern language, much like an “English of art” that functions like the lingua franca of the increasingly numerous biennales and international exhibitions.” - This analysis by Mosquera highlights the very territory that Orozco sits in between an expectation of difference and the accusation that his identity is absorbed into a mimetic “internationalism”. -Gerardo Mosquera, ‘ From Latin American Art to Art from Latin America’, Nexus, vol.2 iss. 48 (2003): 70-74, p. 71-72.

[28] Gerardo Mosquera, ‘ From Latin American Art to Art from Latin America’, Nexus, vol.2 iss. 48 (2003): 70-74, p. 72.