ARQUITECTURA | Reflections Round About: An Exhibition of Bruce Conner's Work

BY IDA RODRÍGUEZ

MEXICO – In the last few months the most disquieting exhibition in Mexico City has been that of North American artist Bruce Conner, at the Antonio Souza Gallery. The exhibition is by a "junk artist," that is, an artist who makes his images and sculptures with objects apparently found amidst trash and debris.

At the opening, Conner appeared with a suitcase containing thousands of marbles and spilled them on the floor, thereby augmenting the already neurotic and artificial atmosphere which reigned amongst those attending the event. This was followed by two films of an erotic and morbid character, conceived and exe­cuted by the artist himself.

Passing over the characteristic exhibitionism of the artist, one cannot deny that his work is impressive. Beyond the gesture of his extreme stance, it is a truly realistic reflection, in a frightening way mirroring the confusion and misery of man today. Conner's work represents a mixture of fundamental sentiments; for example, there is a paradoxical religious tendency alongside an exalting eroticism. There is an anguished cry and a desperate sadness behind his work; a desire to return to lost, "established" values or to find new ones. Conner is no more a charlatan that the rest of us. He knows perfectly well what he is doing. His sensibilities are dominated by his intelligence, and his intelligence by his sensibilities. From this struggle between the creative instinct and the sophistication of a modern intellectual is born a series of pathetically aggres­sive objects. However, the repelling grime on the surface of these works is saved by an interior force that expresses a reality which is different from what we presume it to be.

We are reminded of an impressive exhibit by Conner in New York City a little more than two years ago. His work was more organized, but also more depressing. Blacks and grays were dominant, and the agonies, perversions, desires, and failures of a sinister North American metropolis permeated his work. The artist has lived here for some time now, and under the influence of the Mexican environment he has captured impressions that have changed his work within his own style. Now his colors are varied and alive, like our popular art. His compositions express
a religious cult in which appears the Virgin, the veil, and candles enveloped in a chaos both cheerful and fascinating. This is much like the life of Mexico City and the country in general. His work reflects it's pre-columbian history, its remarkable mystical and colonial tradition, and its symbolic cult of modern civilization. This might include Marilyn Monroe drinking Pepsi Cola, television advertising the latest style of nylon stockings, a blood red plastic box where we find ourselves eating hallucinogenic mushrooms or smoking Kents. And playing marbles. 

 

Translation: Thor Anderson

This translation from Spanish to English is Copyrighted 1989 by Bruce Conner.